Supreme Court justices often vote along ideological lines. Is this due to a genuinely different interpretation of the law, or does it reflect justices' desire to resolve politically-charged legal questions in accordance with their personal views? To learn more about the nature of decision-making in the Court, we differentiate between votes that were pivotal and those that were not. When a justice's choice decides the outcome of a case, her ideology plays an even greater role in determining her vote|both relative to her choices on other cases and relative to other justices voting on the same case. The evidence we present suggests that justices vote strategically, at least in part, to affect precedent. Guided by a simple theoretical model that casts justices as decision makers with both expressive and instrumental preferences, we quantify the impact of "politics from the bench" on the outcomes of 5-4 splits during the Rehnquist Court.
B. Pablo Montagnes completed his PhD in in Managerial Economics and Strategy at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 2010. Prior to joining the faculty at Emory in 2015, Montagnes was an assistant professor at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. Montagnes's primary research focus is formal political theory and political economy. His articles have been published in a number of leading journals including the Journal of Public Economics and Political Science Research and Methods.