Distilling judicial ideology
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A judge's ideology is her set of ideas and principles and her view of how society should work, how power should be allocated, and to what ends it should be used. One way to measure judicial ideology is to find an indicator of a jurist’s preferences and isolate it from as many constraining factors as possible. Supreme Court justices are the least constrained of all jurists, particularly when writing non-majority opinions, and the citations they include in them provide a convenient unit of measurement. By determining the ideological polarity of each citation in a non-majority opinion in a concrete set of cases, I produce ideology scores for their authors within the legal fields to which those cases relate. I then compare these estimates with the justices’ Segal-Cover scores and median Martin-Quinn scores for that same period to determine their relative accuracy and usefulness in forecasting.