Date of Award:
Master of Arts (MA)
William F. Shughart II
A presidential election is, arguably, the most important event in the American political system. The Congress and the president are undoubtedly affected by the pressures and publicity of these events, but we have little understanding of whether the Supreme Court behaves differently in presidential election years. In this paper, I argue that the Supreme Court will experience more consensus in its decisions and make less use of judicial review because of the potential for heightened public scrutiny that can arise during the term overlapping with a presidential election. I test this claim using ordinary least squares regression. I find that a presidential election has no significant effect across three measures of dissent and across a measure of the use of judicial review from the 1946 through 2020 terms. Overall, the Court seems well-insulated from the effects of a presidential election—at least as far as these measures indicate.
Hastings, Jeff, "The Supreme Court and Presidential Elections: An Analysis of Divisive Decisions and Judicial Review in Presidential Elections" (2023). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations, Spring 1920 to Summer 2023. 8788.
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