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.
Mitu Gulati & Stephen J. Choi, Bias in Judicial Citations: A Window Into the Behavior of Judges?, 37 Journal of Legal Studies 87-129 (2008)
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Courts, Judicial opinions, Judicial process