Authorial Control of the Supreme Court
Álvaro Bustos; Emerson Tiller
Documento de Trabajo IE-PUC, N° 495, 2017
Abstract: The Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court authors many of the most important opinions coming out of the Court. The prestige of authoring an important policy decision, and the value that such an opinion adds to the legacy of the Chief Justice’s Court, plays an important and strategic role in the Court’s opinion authorship dynamics and the policy outcomes of the Court. We present a Supreme Court decision-making model that, within the confines of legal doctrine, incorporates the authorship utility of the Chief Justice (and senior associate justices who hold secondary, yet important, property rights over
authorship). New predictions emerge about who authors the Court’s opinion, what case outcome is chosen by the justices, which legal doctrines are chosen, and which decisions are unanimous among the justices. We illustrate aspects of the model with recent Supreme Court decisions involving health care and campaign financing.