The John M. Olin Center

Paper Abstract

624. Mark Ramseyer, Predicting Court Outcomes through Political Preferences: The Japanese Supreme Court and the Chaos of 1993, 12/2008; subsequently published in Duke Law Journal, Vol. 58, No. 7, 2009, 1557-1587.

Empirical students of the U.S. courts successfully explain some court decisions through the party of the executive or legislature that appointed the judge. Others (including some judges) find these studies offensive. In taking offense, they miss a crucial implication: appointment politics predict judicial outcomes only when courts are independent.
Japanese Supreme Court justices enjoy an independence similar to that of their American peers, but their lower-court colleagues do not. Although the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has governed Japan for most of the post-war period, it temporarily lost power in the mid-1990s. Elsewhere, Eric Rasmusen and I ask whether this non-LDP hiatus changed the administration of the lower courts. Here, I ask whether the non-LDP prime ministers appointed Supreme Court justices with different policy preferences than their LDP predecessors. I find that they did not.

624: PDF