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Unformatted text preview: FIELD ESSAY = What Judges W ant: Judges' Goals and Judicial Behavior LAWRENCE BAUM, OHIO STE UNIVERSITY Political scientists in the field of judicial politics' devote the largest portion of their collective effort to the explanation of judicial behavior. They have made considerable progress, yet scholars in the field often express disappointment about our limited understanding of judicial behavior That disappointment is reasonable, in that we are far from fully comprehending the forces that shape what judges do. But students of judicial behavior have accomplished more than they realize, because the several useful strands of research on this issue have not been integrated as well as they might be. Greater attention to integration is needed, particularly integration that is aimed at building theory. One promising approach to integration focuses on the goals ofjudges. Positive political theorists have demonstrated the utility of analyzing the behavior of policymakers in terms of the goals they seek to achieve. Goals have proved to be excellent building blocks for theories of policymaking most notably in research on Congress (Rieselbach 1992). This essay focuses on the relationship between judges' goals and judicial behavior The first section surveys what the existing scholarly literature on judicial behavior tells us about this relationship. In the second section I offer some thoughts about directions for future research.2 In the essay I distinguish between what might be called inherent and operative goals. Inherent goals refer to the ends that judges as people would like to achieve The actual situations in which judges do their work can modify NOTE: I have benefitted a great deal from suggestions and comments on earlier drafts by Carol Mock and John Geer Lee Epstein generously offered a number of good ideas, and the essay's distinctions between analyses of judges' behavior in judicial politics and positive theory draw much from her insights. 1 udicial politics is one of several labels given to the political science field concerned with the courts, and differences in labels reflect differences in conceptions of the field. In us- ing this label, I do not intend to elevate one conception over others. 2 In discussing judicial goals, this essay necessarily addresses the broader issue of the deter- minants of judicial behavior, but the two concerns are not synonymous. For discussions of research on judicial behavior see Jacob (1991) and Gibson (1991). The literature on judicial behavior is concerned almost entirely with judges' policy-relevant behavior-most 749 Political Research Quarterly their hierarchies of goals, giving greater weight to some, lesser weight to others, and making some essentially irrelevant. Thus their operative goals-those that actually influence their behavior as judges-may look quite different from their inherent goals....
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- Supreme Court of the United States, Political Research Quarterly, theSupreme Court, Judicial Behavior