I just read a very interesting paper by a colleague and wanted to bring it to the attention of the readership because of its very important findings. In "Have We Come a Long Way Baby: Female Attorneys before the United States Supreme Court," John Szmer, (UNC-Charlotte), Tammy Sarver (Benedictine) and Erin Kaheny (UW-Milwaukee) seek to determine whether attorney gender matters to U.S. Supreme Court justices in their decision making. Here's their abstract:
While the impact of an attorney's sex has been examined with respect to trial court processes (e.g., jury decision making), no one has previously studied its effects on appellate court decision making. In this article, we argue that the application of gender schemas by some justices results in a devaluing of the arguments made by women litigators. Our findings suggest that women orally arguing attorneys are less likely to receive a favorable vote by a justice than are the male counsel they oppose and that conservative justices are more likely than their liberal counterparts to vote against litigants represented by female counsel at oral argument. This suggests that the ideology of elites influences whether they apply gender schemas in a negative fashion. We also find that justices are more likely to side with female lawyers in women's issues cases, indicating that the justices' perceptions of female lawyer expertise are enhanced in those cases. These findings persist even after controlling for multiple factors, including attorney expertise, the sex of the justice, amicus participation, party capability, and judicial ideology.
An extremely significant contribution to both judicial decision making AND questions of the role of gender in American politics. I commend it to you.
*NOTE: This link has been updated to point to the published version of the article rather than the draft, posted originally. SCB 02.17.15