Job Market Paper
Courting Legal Change: Dynamics of Voting on the US Supreme Court
The literature on the Supreme Court has used static models of voting to estimate the policy preferences of justices. This analysis has largely ignored the role of precedent, a dynamic component in the decision-making process of justices, that could help explain part of their voting behavior. I formulate and structurally estimate a novel dynamic model of decision-making on the US Supreme Court designed to measure the weight of these two forces: differences in ideology and adherence to precedent. Additionally, I account for endogenous case arrivals by incorporating a model of rational litigants in the framework. I find that justices who experience a high cost of deviating from precedent are more ideological when their votes are more likely to be pivotal. Taking the model to data, I find that precedent plays a sizable role in explaining the justices' voting behavior with significant heterogeneity across justices and legal issues. I use these estimates to simulate counterfactual outcomes for policy proposals such a court-packing and a supermajority requirement for changing precedent.
Southern Economic Association Annual Meeting, Nov 2020 (upcoming)
Midwest Economics Association Annual Meeting, Mar 2020 (canceled)
Work In Progress
Previous literature has attempted to investigate the importance of distance to the polling place as a determinant of an individual’s decision to vote using county or state-wide data, and found contradictory results. While some studies have estimated a significant effect of distance to polling place on voter turnout, others have claimed that this effect is essentially neutralized by an uptick in early voting. However, due to the lack of a comprehensive dataset on polling locations across the US, researchers have not been able to test the validity of either of these local findings across all states. We have two main goals: building a comprehensive dataset on the location of polling places for all states in the US, and then investigating whether politically motivated officials strategically place polling locations to drive turnout of favorable groups while dampening the turnout of others.
American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Sep 2019
Bandwagon Effects in Caucuses (with Juan Margitic and Ben Solow)