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Tue Nov 1 08:12:35 PST 2005
No, other research, such as Martin and Quinn, does this. The attitudinal model tries to take differences in voting patterns and chain them to political subject matter. Differences for their own sake are less sexy. Dworkin says there will be differences. You could live in a Dworkin world and have all kinds of voting varience and Professor Maltz will never get a good answer. In the world of Harold Spaeth, differences are ideological according to the criteria of observation, which DOES observe conservatism as a political subject matter.
As to the sense Professor Maltz is using the word "ideology," I doubt that defining it in terms of directionality is not helpful to him and others who consider this issue. It is true that there is another sense in which we could talk about the terms -- and we could develop other empirical constructs -- but, surely, answering his question with directionality logic IS helpful. Segal and Spaeth's data DO help us answer the extent to which the Court is meaningful directional. To the extent that the Warren Court is symbolic of this direction, to a much lesser extent the current Court is.
Now you are right that he may also want to know not how directional the Court is, but what world view each justice has. My answer is that if a justice has a world view that is not meaningfully directional -- and if the criteria for directionality is reasonably good -- what you are asking simply is how should we classify judicial rhetoric, world view, epistemology, etc. The answer would go something like this: Breyer is a pragmatic bureaucrat, Scalia a textualist with a formalist bent, etc.
Mark Graber <mgraber at gvpt.umd.edu> wrote:
To be clear, I think a world with the supreme court database and the
attitudinal research is much, much better than a world without either.
I just don't think the attiduinal model answers Professor Maltz's query
that well, and that is not a strike against it, given that the effort is
to explain differences in judicial voting, not to develop a substantive
understanding of what it means to be a conservative. Maybe I am wrong,
but I've never thought Segal and Spaeth were not interested
(professionally) in theories of conservatism, but Professor Maltz is,
and whether the Rehnquist Court is conservative in the sense in which he
is asking the question requires a more robust understanding of
conservatism than attitudinalists provide (or are interested in
>>> Sean Wilson 11/01/05 10:31 AM >>>
You make excellent points, Mark. But let's imagine two scenarios: a
world without the supreme court data base and a world with it. Were we
lacking a comprehensive "counting" of the directionality of each vote
throughout the entire judicial career, I think your statement (below)
would be true. You would use gutman scale logic to say that there is a
meaningful attitudinal alignment, such as:
x x x + + + (I'm not going to draw the whole thing as if varies
for each issue)
x x + + + +
Now, however, we have a different kind of tool: we can assess to what
extent career voting matches ideal conservatism and liberalism as a
SUBJECT MATTER as found in the criteria for making these observations at
the case level. Ideology is measured at the case level as a directional
phenomenon, not as a relative one. The idea is that there is a pro/con
stimuli associated with each judicial choice. Now, the stimuli is not
equal for each choice, but unfortunately that is the way it is treated
(more on that later). Hence, we can assess with this measure the
absolute question of to what extent a justice's career choices show
favoritism for ideological stimuli observed (i.e., directionality).
The fact of the matter is that many of the justices (on the fringe) DO
exhibit systemic favortism for liberalism and conservatism as a SUBJECT
MATTER, not as a relative matter. Of course, their preference for the
subject matter is indeed relative, but at least now we have an assment
of how close they are to absolute affinity with it. My point is that
there are many justices (like Rehnquist) who are NOT country club
conservatives. Many, like Marshall, ARE similar to college professor
liberals, at least according to the measure. (Now, you can argue the
measure doesn't capture this, but I don't have time to get into that
today. I'm giving my kids a test today and I am just too busy. We'll do
it later if you wish. One of my theories is that this measure does, in
fact, capture this somewhat, albeit in a sloppy fashion. Truthfully,
Harold Spaeth's coding criteria really isn't that bad. I happen to like
it and will defend it next week if necessary).
Given the above, we can say that THIS COURT does not have great affinity
for either political SUBJECT MATTER. In fact, a time series analysis
seems to suggest the affinity is going down, not up, contrary to what
Jeff Segal thinks (my upcoming Chicago paper). If ideology means
directionality -- the way it is empirically observed -- directionality
is not as significant as the common impression suggests. The Court's
scale preferences are squishing, meaning more pragmatic rather than
dogmatic choices are being made.
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