And so we've come full circle. I began the week asking how best to operationalize the law. My most recent post on the Attitudinal Model generated much discussion over how much that explanation of decision making leaves wanting. So, what's the alternative? Harold Spaeth is himself the first to say (at least to me) that if someone can demonstrate a "better" way to explain Supreme Court voting behavior, he's all ears. That means, of course, that he's looking for an empirical, falsifiable, hypothesis-based demonstration that there is something else that systematically, significantly, and substantively affects Supreme Court decision making. And so I ask again, what is the alternative? Is law a "nuisance" as Zorn describes it (drinking wine and crashing into tables, no less!!), or are there systematic components to the law that we might operationalize and include in our models of Supreme Court decision making? If attitudes are the best predictor of votes (regardless of how much they actually are able to predict, alone or with facts), then isn't that still a pretty major and useful contribution? And does anyone have something in mind that does better?
So, coming full circle is a nice way to end my week as "Guest Blogger!" Thanks for your interest and attention!