Decision making by an agent with multiple principals: Environmental policy in the U.S. courts of appeals

Stefanie A. Lindquist, Susan B. Haire

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Institutional games for both higher and lower courts become especially complex in the realm of environmental policymaking. Environmental policymaking has long been depicted as the result of interaction between a wide variety of policy actors, including the courts, Congress, and the presidency. This essay shifts attention to the U.S. Courts of Appeals to examine judicial decision making in pollution control cases from 1984 to 1996 in order to assess the extent to which judges respond to the complex, multiple institutional forces in their decisionmaking environment. From a principal-agent perspective, circuit judges are hypothesized to respond to the policy preferences of multiple principals. The empirical results support this premise, suggesting that circuit court judges' decisions are influenced by Supreme Court preferences in this policy area and, to a lesser degree, to shifts in the environmental policy preferences of Congress. Although judges' decisions were not directly influenced by presidential policy preferences, they did reflect the substantial influence of an executive branch agency, the Environmental Protection Administration, particularly when the agency advocated an anti-environmental position.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInstitutional Games and the U.S. Supreme Court
PublisherUniversity of Virginia Press
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9780813934198
ISBN (Print)9780813925271
StatePublished - Oct 5 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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