The Attitudinal Model

Authored by: Jeffrey A. Segal , Alan J. Champlin

Routledge Handbook of Judicial Behavior

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138913356
eBook ISBN: 9781315691527
Adobe ISBN:


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What considerations go into how a judge makes a decision on a given case? The attitudinal model holds that personal policy preferences are the strongest influence, limited by the facts (stimuli) of the controversy at hand, on how a judge will rule on the merits of a case (Segal and Spaeth 2002). Put another way, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is liberal, and it is reflected in her votes, while Justice Antonin Scalia was conservative, and it was reflected in his votes. While it may appear simplistic, the explanations of judicial behavior provided by the attitudinal model have transformed the paradigm of judicial studies so substantially that it is viewed by some as “more a matter of common sense than political theory” (Lain 2007, 60). However it is discussed, there is no denying that the attitudinal model is “[t]he dominant theory of judicial behavior in the field of political science” (Yates, Cann, and Boyea 2013, 849) and that it “has become a cornerstone of judicial behavior scholarship” (Yates and Coggins 2009, 274).

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