Rational choice attitudinalism?: A review of Epstein, Landes and Posner’s The behavior of federal judges: a theoretical and empirical study of rational choice

March 2016
with Lewis Kornhauser; Forthcoming in European Journal of Law and Economics

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This essay reviews Epstein, Landes, and Posner’s The Behavior of Federal Judges: A Theoretical and Empirical Study of Rational Choice. Their book systematically asks how the role of ideology varies across the tiers of the federal judicial hierarchy. A major finding is that the impact of ideology increases from the bottom to the top of the judicial hierarchy. Their typical methodology formulates an ex ante measure of judicial ideology such as the political party of the appointing president, and demonstrates that this measure correlates with later judicial behavior, often voting on case dispositions. Along the way, they investigate a multitude of topics, including some quite under‐explored ones.