Boston, Joshua. “Strategic Opinion Language on the U.S. Courts of Appeals.” Conditionally accepted at Journal of Law & Courts.
What strategies do judges employ when they anticipate review? Constrained judges behave strategically by using particular instruments – like language complexity – when authoring opinions. Prior studies suggest judges use complexity in anticipation of legislative hostility. Similarly, the threat of review and reversal may spur opinion complexity. This study examines variations in circuit court opinions resulting from precedent treatment and Supreme Court preferences. When a circuit negatively treats a Supreme Court precedent that the justices prefer or a circuit positively treats a precedent the justices dislike, opinion complexity should increase. These hypotheses find support, suggesting that circuits strategically insulate using opinion complexity.
Lamb, Charles M., Joshua Boston, and Jacob R. Neiheisel. “Power Plus Persuasion: The Anatomy of Kennedy’s Housing Order.” Invited to revise & resubmit.
We examine the influence of various political actors on the substance and timing of presidential orders. Specifically, we analyze President Kennedy’s decision to issue E. O. 11063, which directed the federal bureaucracy to eliminate discrimination in the sale or lease of residential property overseen by the federal government. We show that this order did not result solely from Kennedy’s policy preferences; rather, it was a product of persuasion by several political actors who coaxed Kennedy to act. This reinforces previous findings that the president’s power of the pen is often conditioned by the informal political costs of unilateral executive action.
Boston, Joshua, David Carlson, and JB Duck-Mayr. “Political Competition and Judicial Independence: How Courts Fill the Void When Legislatures Are Ineffective.”
Extant studies illuminate the impact of political competition on policy-makers’ motivation to create de jure independent judiciaries. Still, less is certain about whether competition might also impact de facto independence. We show with a formal model that political competition reduces legislators’ ability to address policy-seekers’ proposals, causing increased demand for policy intervention from the courts. Utilizing a large sample of democratic states over time, we estimate the relationship between competition and de facto independence using a multilevel model. Across model specifications, we consistently find support for our theory, which has important implications for our conceptions of the nature of judicial independence; it is not simply the practice of autonomous judicial behavior, but a function of the current political environment.
Boston, Joshua, Jonathan Homola, Betsy Sinclair, Michelle Torres, and Patrick Tucker. “Casualties of the Culture Wars: Lifestyle Differences Between Democrats and Republicans.” Under review.
Do our basic daily choices—from the comics we read to the sports we play—segregate us into distinct partisan communities? Using answers to almost 300 questions from over 1300 respondents in a United States national probability sample survey on lifestyle choices (rang- ing from recreational activities to food preferences), we ascertain whether American lifestyles are partitioned by political party. Relying upon a community detection algorithm and latent class analysis, we demonstrate that American lifestyles are divided into two communities and the greatest predictor of membership is partisanship, even when controlling for race, gender, age, income, and education. We find that this clustering with respect to lifestyles dampens political discussion across citizens.
Neiheisel, Jacob R., Charles M. Lamb, Joshua Boston. “Presidential Rhetoric and Bureaucratic Enforcement: Evidence from the Clinton Administration.” Invited to revise & resubmit.
Focusing on the Clinton years, we examine two indicators of presidential leadership in fair housing: Clinton’s public statements and the degree of fair housing enforcement by HUD and DOJ under his appointees. However, even though research concludes that presidential signals affect bureaucratic behavior, our analysis reveals few indications of leadership. We would therefore expect that when a president sends weak signals, weak bureaucratic enforcement would be the result, regardless of a president’s policy reputation. Overall, our findings augment existing work on presidential opinion leadership by expanding the scope of inquiry and demonstrating that the intensity of presidential statements matter.
Boston, Joshua. “Varieties of Capitalism and Intellectual Property Institutions: Are differences in patent dispute resolutions a byproduct of economic features?”
Do countries’ distinct economic characteristics lead to variations in intellectual property protections – in particular, (1) adjudication of patent infringement cases, (2) patent reexamination, and (3) patent invalidation processes? Economic differences across systems stem not only from formal institutions, but from each country’s history and culture. Courts and, more specifically, patent institutions fall within these national environments, causing behavior to endogenize. The varieties of capitalism dichotomy between Liberal and Coordinated Market Economies (LME and CME, respectively) helps to define these environments. LMEs, as highly competitive systems, will protect patent rights more so than CMEs, which are highly cooperative systems. Country-specific data from the German, Japanese and United States patent offices’ annual reports reveal the number of patent reviews and invalidations per year. Preliminary findings suggest that LMEs review fewer patents than CMEs, though further data collection and analysis is necessary.
Boston, Joshua. “Strategic Deference by the European Court of Justice: Understanding Economic Influences on Judicial Decision-Making”
Does European Court of Justice (ECJ) deference to member states systematically vary according to national economic or electoral conditions? This paper argues that the ECJ will anticipate the likely compliance with its rulings by member states – compliance that is conditional on the country’s domestic economic and electoral circumstances. As such, the ECJ constrains its decisions based on past economic performance and potential electoral concerns. The data for this exploratory study comes from Carrubba and Gabel (2014), and is supplemented with economic and electoral data. Preliminary results suggest that ECJ rulings in favor of the member state depend, in part, on the country’s prior economic performance, with lower levels of growth corresponding to greater member-state deference by the ECJ. Model estimations provide no evidence regarding the role of electoral concerns.