Policy goals and majority opinion assignment on the Burger and Rehnquist Courts
Kallerman, James Arthur
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The pattern of Supreme Court majority opinion assignments manifests a mixture of attitudinal, strategic, and organizational models. There is evidence that Chief Justice Warren Burger’s assignment patterns defy the attitudinal model when the cases at hand are important. Specifically, chief justices would be expected to self-assign important cases if they are interested in achieving goals consistent with their policy views. Instead, Burger rarely self-assigned opinions in important cases. Does Burger’s reluctance to self-assign indicate that the attitudinal model has less explanatory use for Burger’s Court than for other Courts? This paper subjects Burger and Rehnquist’s assignments to a battery if tests to determine if Burger was less policy oriented in his assignments than was Rehnquist. The results are inconclusive, both because the models did not perform as expected and because an entirely convincing definition of Burger’s policy interests is unavailable.