Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The judicial power of the purse: How courts fund national defense in times of crisis
by Staudt, Nancy Christine, Ph.D., The University of Chicago, 2010, 339; 3408669
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation investigates the possibility that federal judges utilize their power over the federal budget to advance their interest in national safety and security. It sets forth an information theory of crisis jurisprudence, an informal theory positing that judges wield their fiscal power as a double-edged sword with the goal of assuring the nation consumes the ideal level of defense, and then investigates the empirical implications of the theory.

The empirical component of the thesis examines qualitative evidence found in judicial opinions and courtroom filings and finds the theory is a plausible account of judicial decision-making. The dissertation then conducts a large-N study of thousands of decisions rendered by judges and justices in both the Supreme Court and lower federal courts. Using a range of statistical methods, the study finds substantial support for the information theory in the High Court but not in lower federal courts.

The dissertation invites further investigation into whether the information theory of judging is useful for purposes of explaining judicial behavior outside the foreign policy context. To explore this question, the final chapter of the study conducts a preliminary investigation of decision-making in the context of economic policymaking. Specifically, it explores the effects of market conditions on judicial decision-making and finds the information theory, with minor adjustments, substantially aids in forecasting how and why judges respond to macroeconomic factors.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Howell, William
Commitee: Landes, William, Snidal, Duncan, VanderWeele, Tyler
School: The University of Chicago
Department: Public Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 71/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Law, Political science, Public policy
Keywords: Courts, Crisis, Fiscal policy, Judicial power, Law, National defense, Political economy
Publication Number: 3408669
ISBN: 978-1-124-05099-7
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