Political Science and Politics


Supreme Court Justices Really Do Follow the Election Returns

Forrest Maltzman a1c1, Lee Sigelman a1c2 and Paul J. Wahlbeck a1c3
a1 George Washington University

More than a century has passed since the fictional Mr. Dooley declared in his rich Irish brogue that “The Soopreme Court follows the illiction returns,” but until now no hard evidence has existed of just how fixated the Court is on presidential elections [but see Flemming and Wood 1997; Mishler and Sheehan 1993]. Fortunately, now we have proof positive, which we serendipitously unearthed from its resting place in the Library of Congress, where it was entombed deep in the personal papers of Justice Harry Blackmun.

c1 Forrest Maltzman is professor of political science at George Washington University. He is the author of Competing Principals: Committees, Parties and the Organization of Congress (Michigan 1997) and the coauthor of Crafting Law on the Supreme Court (Cambridge 2000), and “Leaving Office Feet First: Death in Congress” (PS, 1996). He is currently working on books about federal judicial selection and about the interaction of the Supreme Court, Congress, and the executive branch.
c2 Lee Sigelman is Columbian College Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the George Washington University, and is the editor of the American Political Science Review. He also runs his department's annual NCAA basketball tournament pool.
c3 Paul J. Wahlbeck is associate professor of political science at George Washington University. In addition to coauthoring Crafting Law on the Supreme Court: The Collegial Game (2000, Cambridge University Press), Wahlbeck has published articles on strategic behavior on the Supreme Court in numerous journals, including the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, and the Journal of Politics.