Are apex court judges politically biased?

The question whether judges are politically biased is highly disputed. Some consider it a heresy even to ask the question, while others believe it to be a self-evident truism. If we look at how controversial the nomination procedures for new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court are, we see that most participants in the U.S. political process at least believe that justices are influenced by their political ideology. There is some empirical evidence confirming this belief. The seminal contribution on this issue is a study by Jeffrey Segal and Albert Cover. The authors construct an ideology score for Supreme Court Justices, which is based on newspaper reports regarding these judges prior to their election to the Court. The study finds a high correlation between...

Augmented Doctrinal Reality Exploring and Analysing Judicial Discourse with Computer-Aided Methods

When I discuss empirical studies of law with legal scholars and law students in Europe, whether is in Germany, Belgium, France or Italy, one comment I often hear is “but this is not law”.  This is a remark worth exploring, because it tells us something important about the way academic lawyers conceive of their discipline and its object of study. I tell my bachelor students that there are basically two ways to approach the study of law. One is as product of society and as instrument of social control. Much of the political science law and courts literature as well as the law & economics literature follow this approach. These literatures are concerned with...

What do Lawyers Have to Count (on)? On the Role of Lawʼs|Empirics in European Legal Studies

Abstract | In Continental Europe, traditional legal thinking is rather remote from empirical research and statistics. Nonetheless lawyers have been trying for more than one hundred years to fuse knowledge about society’s “isʼs and oughts”. Their attempts had to continuously adapt to changes in the dominant intellectual paradigms, and are now framed as discursive argumentation about different normatively infused descriptions of the world. As such, empirical discourse is indispensable for the law and will shape legal education in the future. Complex legal realities require statistical legal thinking. The new academic blog Law's|Empirics seeks to document...