Oral arguments are a key aspect of the Supreme Court's decision-making process
The U.S. Supreme Court, with its controlled, highly institutionalized decision-making practices, provides an ideal environment for studying coalition formation. The process begins during the oral argument stage, which provides the justices with their first opportunity to hear one another's attitudes and concerns specific to a case. This information gathering allows them eventually to form a coalition.
In order to uncover the workings of this process, the authors analyze oral argument transcripts from every case decided from 1998 through 2007 as well as the complete collection of notes kept during oral arguments by Justice Lewis F. Powell and Justice Harry A. Blackmun. Both justices clearly monitored their fellow justices' participation in the discussion and used their observations to craft opinions their colleagues would be likely to support. This study represents a major step forward in the understanding of coalition formation, which is a crucial aspect of many areas of political debate and decision making.
Ryan C. Black is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University.
Timothy R. Johnson is Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota.
Justin Wedeking is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Kentucky.
Listen to the exchanges discussed in the book
Bush v. Gore (1)
Bush v. Gore (2)
Bush v. Gore (3)
McConnell v. FEC (1)
McConnell v. FEC (2)
Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District of Nevada
Batson v. Kentucky (1)
Batson v. Kentucky (2)
Batson v. Kentucky (3)
Cruzan v. Missouri Dept. of Health
Color Reproduction of Notes
Justice Blackmun's notes in U.S. v. R.L.C.
Justice Powell's notes from Batson v. Kentucky
Justice Blackmun's notes from Batson v. Kentucky
Justice Blackmun's notes in Patterson v. McLean Credit Union
Justice Blackmun's predictions in Cruzan
Justice Blackmun's predictions in Spallone