Lane, Elizabeth A. Forthcoming. “A Separation-of-Powers Approach to the Supreme Court’s Shrinking Caseload.” Journal of Law and Courts.



Schoenherr, Jessica A., Elizabeth A. Lane, and Miles T. Armaly. 2020. “The Purpose of Senatorial Grandstanding during Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings.” Journal of Law and Courts 8(2): 333-358.


Working Papers:


Armaly, Miles T. and Elizabeth A. Lane. “Politicized Battles: How Vacancies and Partisanship Influence Support for the Supreme Court.” 


Supreme Court vacancies in the modern era produce great partisan rancor in efforts to confirm – or impede – the nomination. Amid yet another intensely politicized vacancy on the eve of the 2020 presidential election, there was cause to question the conclusion that these vacancies do not harm the judiciary in the eyes of the mass public. We utilize panel data collected before and after Justice Ginsburg’s death to determine if, and how, individuals reacted to the vacancy and immediate elected branch posturing to fill it. We find that the political battle over the vacancy yielded decreases in diffuse support among Democrats, particularly among those who read a story about Senate Republicans’ willingness to fill an election-year vacancy after refusing to do so in 2016. Additionally, support for federal judicial elections decreased across survey waves, but only among certain subsets of respondents. Finally, optimism about who will nominate the next justice – one’s preferred 2020 candidate, or not – significantly influences support for curbing. Across the board, the politics of the elected branches appear capable of influencing the mass public’s level of support. Politicized vacancies are another feature of the political world that can harm the Court.


Lane, Elizabeth A. “Does Law Constrain or Policy Prevail? The Effect of Litigant Case Strength on U.S. Supreme Court Decision Making.”
2019 Best Graduate Student Paper, Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association and 2019 Best Graduate Student Paper, Michigan Political Science Association


What happens when law and ideology come in conflict in a case? Research has revealed at the agenda stage, there are two types of decisions Supreme Court justices make. The first occurs when law supports their policy preferences and encourages them to vote sincerely. The second is the focus of this essay. It arises when justices? ideological preferences and law are at odds. Using novel data, I develop a measure of litigant legal argument quality to evaluate this relationship at the merits stage. I argue that this relationship is conditional on certain justice and case-level factors. To test this I classify whether justices? votes on the merits are policy consistent or inconsistent and examine deviations from policy in the votes justices cast. I find that all justices are constrained by law, but moderate justices are constrained most often, whereas justices at the ideological poles still vote their preferences a majority of the time.


Lane, Elizabeth A. and Jessica A. Schoenherr. “Where are the Women? Briefs, Oral Argument, and Gender Roles at the Supreme Court.”


The Supreme Court has a gender problem: the attorneys who work on merits briefs and present material to the justices at oral argument are overwhelmingly male. One possible explanation for this disparity is the long-held belief that the justices are biased against women, which then leads firms to avoid placing women in the more forward-facing litigation positions, namely as the counsel of record on a brief or as the attorney who appears at oral argument. In this paper, we seek to better understand the factors that lead women to positions of power within a Supreme Court litigation team, and then we look to see if those women win the justices’ votes. To do this, we collect data on every attorney whose name is on a brief between the 1984 and 2018 Supreme Court terms.


Lane, Elizabeth A. and Jessica A. Schoenherr. “A Winning Strategy: How Attorneys Use Vanity Citations to Sway Justices.”


Discussions about Supreme Court decision-making almost always devolve into conversations about attorney strategy toward the median justice. Such conversations suggest attorneys are strategic in how they approach the justices, carefully crafting their briefs and oral argument discussions to persuade at least five justices to their side. We seek to better understand how attorneys appearing before the Supreme Court appeal to the justices’ preferences and obtain their votes. Using citation data from a random sample of 75 search and seizure and Establishment Clause cases, we analyze the frequency with which attorneys cite sitting Supreme Court justices’ past decisions and the factors that influence their decision to do so. We then use that information to see if the attorneys’ strategic behavior effectively convinces the justices to side with them.


Scott, Jamil S., Elizabeth A. Lane, and Jessica A. Schoenherr. “You Better Shop Around: How Litigant Characteristics Influence Support for Supreme Court Decisions.”


Many scholars have studied the public response to Supreme Court decisions, however, there are very few studies that examine how the Court’s support or legitimacy changes based on the beneficiaries of the Court’s rulings. Put more simply, we ask: are there litigants that make the mass public more or less accepting of the Supreme Court and its decisions? In this study, we use a survey experimental design to examine how different litigant characteristics affect opinions about Supreme Court decision-making on the controversial issue of gun control.



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