Document Type


Publication Date



judicial opinions, judicial bias, empirical study of courts


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 often than would be expected considering the fraction of the total pool of opinions attributable to judges of the opposite political party. 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 more often cite those judges who cite them frequently, which suggests the presence of mutual citation clubs.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Courts, Judicial opinions, Judicial process

Included in

Judges Commons