whoooo26505 at yahoo.com
Tue Nov 1 09:58:28 PST 2005
I am not opposed to people who want to use impressionism as their guide. Just tell us the criteria and the cases. My guess is that for every one showing the impression of a political stereotype you will find those that are contrary to it (e.g., Scalia and flagburning). But even if we use impressionism, it, too, reduces to an empirical construct (e.g., counting only the votes on the really big cases?). But saying that we shouldn't tally our observations certainly makes no sense. Harold Spaeth and his progeny did one hell of a job making an ideological observation for each vote over the last 50 plus years. We certainly don't want to say: Spaeth and the data are good when the results favor the deconstruction of judging, but not good when they do not. That kind of "scholarship" really makes academia look like a political pressure group. Let's do science, not cheerleading.
I guess, though, one thing that might be needed is some fair way to weight each observation. Flag burning is clearly a bigger vote ideologically than, say, private defamation cases. I think there is some literature out there that takes saliency into account, but I don't think it helped the ideological model. I can't recall right now.
I am open to other constructs if they are reasonable and not applied by academics using motivated reasoning to support their biases.
Richard Dougherty <doughr at udallas.edu> wrote:
Why is it that talk of a conservative court brings to mind Pauline Kael's reported comment on Nixon: "Nobody I knew voted for him"? Earl is right to address particular issues here; we might ask what would consitute a liberal court, and then we would have a
baseline from which to begin analysis.
Mark Graber has hit the nail on the head in terms of the limitations of attitudinal models and databases for this kind of analysis (though I'm not sure we're better off with them...).
Earl Maltz wrote:
> Both Clayton Cornell and Elizabeth Dale have asserted that we have a
> "conservative" Court. I suppose the question is, compared to what? I will
> grant that a majority of the justices on the Court were appointed by
> conservative Presidents (although, in reality, George Bush the first had no
> discernible ideology on domestic issues). But consider the actual holdings
> of the Court on the constitutional issues that are of importance to the
> liberal academic establishment:
> a) GLBT rights--more protective than any Court in history.
> b) Women's rights--as protective as any Court in history.(with the
> exception of Nguyen, which is a special case)
> c) Abortion rights--for all intents and purposes, remain intact
> d) Religious observances in public schools--unremittingly hostile
> (although, admittedly, on aid to private schools, Barry Lynn and his
> minions are no doubt upset).
> e) Capital Punishment--more hostile than any Court in history
> f) Immigrant rights--more protective than any Court in history.
> e) Property rights--protected only at the margins (see Kelo).
> f) Federalism--Admittedly imposes significant new constraints on federal
> government authority to regulate state governments, but leaves feds free to
> regulate any private activity that is even plausibly economic.
> This is not a list that pleases anyone that I know show describes himself
> as consistently "conservative."
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