Decision Making in the Supreme Court

Length: 4 Pages 1117 Words

The most important thing to understand about the Supreme Court is why the Court reaches the decisions that it hands down. In understanding this you must first be aware of several factors. These factors include the role of the law in decision making, how justices’ values effect their voting, how group interaction affects the court’s final decision, the affect of external influences, and the role of ideology. First of all, there are four models constructed by political scientists to explain the court’s decision-making. These four models are the legal model, the attitudinal model, the collegial game model, and the strategic model. The legal model postulates that “the decisions of the Court are based on the facts of the case in light of the plain meaning of statutes and the Constitution, the intent of framers, the precedent, and a balancing of societal interests” (Segal and Spaeth 1993, 32). The attitudinal model “holds that the Supreme Court decides disputes in light of the facts of the cases vis-a-vie the ideological attitudes and values of the justices” (Segal and Spaeth 1993, 65). The collegial game model contends that “justices will try to secure opinions that are as close as possible to their policy Continue...


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After accepting a case, the justices may be influenced by interest groups on the basis of merit (Baum 2004, 149). The strategic model illustrates the strategic account of judicial decision making compromises into three main ideas. In voting, individual justices often shift their opinions during the decision process (Baum 2004, 138). Of course a justice wants the support of his or her colleagues their preferred policy, so flexibility and persuasion are encouraged (Baum 2004, 138). "Plain meaning" is the most basic approach where judges analyze the literal meaning of the words in the law (Baum 2004, 120). Justices take into account the opinion of the majority of Congress in their decisions. The president and Congress are the greatest influence on the Court. First they might simply take the positions that reflect their views as policy (Baum 2004, 125). The intent of framers is used when the plain meaning is unclear (Baum 2004, 121). We do know that law exerts influence and influence is very powerful ( Baum 2004, 123). Some of these techniques include texualism, originalism, stare decisis, balancing of interest, and structuralism. There are two realities pertaining to the extent that the state of the law explains court decisions (Baum 2004, 119). This strategic manner, however, rarely moves justices very far from their preferred positions (Baum 2004, 125). Justices are motivated by other justices in their political environment which intern may affect the court"tms final decision. He also appoints the solicitor general and intervenes in specific cases (Baum 2004, 150.

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