The Mechanics of Judicial Vote Switching


H. Ron Davidson


In a handful of cases, including one from last Term, the United States Supreme Court was divided between upholding, remanding, and overturning a lower court decision, with no majority in favor of any of these three dispositions. In each of these cases, at least one Justice switched his or her vote to achieve a majority. With the Supreme Court taking ever fewer cases and producing increasingly complicated split decisions, we may expect this pattern to recur more often. This Article, drawing upon game theory and public choice scholarship, addresses how and why this practice of strategic vote switching emerged.


Law and Economics

Date of this Version

June 2004