Separate opinion writing on the United States Courts of Appeals

Virginia A. Hettinger, Stefanie A. Lindquist, Wendy L. Martinek

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


In this article, we set ourselves to the task of identifying the determinants of separate opinion writing on the U.S. Courts of Appeals. Utilizing a new institutional theoretical framework, we evaluate a series of hypotheses concerning the connection between separate opinion writing behavior and attitudinal, institutional, and legal factors. Within this broad theoretical framework, we are particularly sensitive to the manner in which judges may advance certain goals through authorship of separate opinions. We find that judges' policy preferences, case salience, and collegiality norms all affect the likelihood that a judge will write a separate opinion. Our research provides additional support for integrated models of judicial decision-making that take into account institutional, attitudinal, and legal influences on judicial behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-250
Number of pages36
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Courts of Appeals
  • Judicial decision making
  • Opinion writing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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