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Here Me Roar: What Provokes Supreme Court Justices to Dissent from the Bench
Unformatted Document Text:  16 legally and politically salient cases. The salience of a case may also be measured by how closely divided the justices are over the outcome of a case. Such divisions indicate a clear-cut division over the policy set by the majority. 55 As such, a justice may be more upset about a majority decision in these cases than when the justices reach a unanimous or near unanimous decision. As such, we hypothesize: Minimum Winning Coalition Hypothesis: A justice is more likely to announce a dissent from the bench when the majority coalition is minimum winning. Beyond factors internal to the Court, external forces may influence the decision to announce from the bench. As we indicate above, Hausseger and Baum 56 argue that justices may sometimes try to send signals to the elected branches about changing decisions with which they disagree. We utilize this intuition and argue that justices dissatisfied with a decision may announce a dissent publicly to send a strong signal that Congress should alter the majority opinion. In particular, we hypothesize: Distance from Congress Hypothesis: The closer ideologically a justice is to each house of Congress the more likely he will read a dissent or concurrence from the bench IV. Data and Methods To test our hypotheses we use a newly constructed dataset consisting of all cases that had, as of August 2007, an opinion announcement audio file available on the Oyez Website. These announcement files, 1291 in total, cover cases decided between 1975 and 2006. There are, we should note, gaps and periods of under coverage in our data. For example, between 1975 and 1984 we have data for only 20 of the Court’s opinions. For cases decided in the last 15 or so 55 See Wahlbeck et al., supra note 40, at 497. 56 Hausseger & Baum, supra note 47Error! Bookmark not defined., at 168.

Authors: Johnson, Timothy. and Black, Ryan.
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16
legally and politically salient cases.
The salience of a case may also be measured by how closely divided the justices are over
the outcome of a case. Such divisions indicate a clear-cut division over the policy set by the
majority.
55
As such, a justice may be more upset about a majority decision in these cases than
when the justices reach a unanimous or near unanimous decision. As such, we hypothesize:
Minimum Winning Coalition Hypothesis: A justice is more likely to announce a dissent
from the bench when the majority coalition is minimum winning.
Beyond factors internal to the Court, external forces may influence the decision to
announce from the bench. As we indicate above, Hausseger and Baum
56
argue that justices may
sometimes try to send signals to the elected branches about changing decisions with which they
disagree. We utilize this intuition and argue that justices dissatisfied with a decision may
announce a dissent publicly to send a strong signal that Congress should alter the majority
opinion. In particular, we hypothesize:
Distance from Congress Hypothesis: The closer ideologically a justice is to each house
of Congress the more likely he will read a dissent or concurrence from the bench
IV. Data and Methods
To test our hypotheses we use a newly constructed dataset consisting of all cases that had,
as of August 2007, an opinion announcement audio file available on the Oyez Website. These
announcement files, 1291 in total, cover cases decided between 1975 and 2006. There are, we
should note, gaps and periods of under coverage in our data. For example, between 1975 and
1984 we have data for only 20 of the Court’s opinions. For cases decided in the last 15 or so
55
See Wahlbeck et al., supra note 40, at 497.
56
Hausseger & Baum, supra note 47Error! Bookmark not defined., at 168.


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