Bias in Judicial Citations: A Window into the Behavior of Judges?
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
This Article tests for the presence of bias in judicial citations within federal circuit court opinions. Our findings suggest bias along three dimensions. First, judges base outside circuit citation decisions in part on the political party of the cited judge. Judges tend to cite judges of the opposite political party less compared with the fraction of the total pool of opinions attributable to the opposite political party judges. Second, judges are more likely to engage in biased citation practices in certain high stakes situations. These high stakes situations include opinions dealing with certain subject matters (such as individual rights and campaign finance) as well as opinions in which another judge is in active opposition. Third, judges cite more to those judges that cite back to them frequently, suggesting the presence of "mutual" citation clubs.