A recent study conducted by Maya Sen, a political scientist at the University of Rochester, and Adam Glynn, a government professor at Harvard, shows that judges who have at least one female child may be more likely to rule in favor of women in certain types of cases. The report “Identifying Judicial Empathy: Does Having Daughters Cause Judges to Rule for Women’s Issues?” finds that having at least one daughter corresponds to a 7 percent increase in the proportion of cases in which a judge will vote in a feminist direction. The study further finds that having one daughter as opposed to one son is linked to a 16 percent increase in the proportion of “gender-related cases decided in a feminist direction.” The study found the “daughter effect” was more dramatic in judges appointed by Republican presidents than in those appointed by Democrats.
Sen told the New York Times in a recent interview, “By having at least one daughter, judges learn what it’s like to be a woman, perhaps a young woman, who might have to deal with issues like equity in terms of pay, university admissions or taking care of children.” Sen and Glynn consider other causal explanations for their findings, but conclude that learning is the mechanism at play. For example, they rule out the possibility that parents of daughters feel compelled to rule in ways that would protect their female children Sen and Glynn saw an effect only in gender-related civil cases, not a conservative shift among gender-related criminal cases like sexual assault.
The problem with the study is not that the data are wrong. The problem is that too often those who use data like these mean to either exempt the judgments from moral consequence altogether or to praise particular judicial motivations that they happen to like. In the first instance, they justify legal realism with data, omitting any reflection on whether the observed effects can or should be minimized. They gloss over too the overwhelming number of cases that are decided by mundane, less-subjective methods. In the second variation, they celebrate the phenomenon as “empathy” with some results, while condemning it as “bias” in others . . . .
As Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
It’s a familiar enough idea. You see it in both Macbeth and the genesis story of just about every Marvel supervillan. It’s true, I think, not just of people but also of institutions. Like governments.
Just about every time I go to federal court for a sentencing hearing — where it seems the AUSA is fighting for each additional month in prison like it will take a point off his mortgage — I think about this quote from Nietzsche:
Believe it or not, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and presidential candidate-in-waiting Hillary Clinton have a lot in common.
They both graduated from Yale Law School (Clinton in ’73; Sotomayor in ’79). They’ve both overcome great adversity: Sotomayor escaped the projects to become the Supreme Court’s first Hispanic justice, and Clinton escaped the embarrassment of her husband’s blue dress stains to become the 67th secretary of state. They both wrote memoirs, though based on reviews, it looks like critics prefer Sotomayor’s “beloved world” (affiliate link) over any of the “hard choices” (affiliate link) Clinton may have had to make.
Last, but not least, both Sotomayor and Clinton spend their free time at big-box retailers like Costco…
* Law firms are rushing to get into the marriage equality game — but only on one side. [Reuters]
* Here’s a nice little listicle of famous female criminals. Just in time for Orange Is The New Black. [Arrest Records]
* Virginia State Senator resigns and changes the leadership of the Senate to the opposite party. Why would he do this? His daughter isn’t going to get a judgeship out of this or anything is she? [Slate]
* The Republicans are in long-term trouble. Maybe they should consider becoming the “party of innovation.” Apparently regulation is the only thing holding that back. Not investing in education, infrastructure, or having a government hostile to science. [National Review]
* Philip K. Howard, the author of The Rule of Nobody (affiliate link) sat down with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show last night. Video after the jump….
On Friday, the National Archives unsealed a fifth batch of Clinton Administration presidential papers. The documents were originally released by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock. Let’s get these pesky papers out of the way before Hillary Clinton, author of a new memoir (affiliate link), launches her presidential bid.
The latest papers contain some juicy tidbits for legal nerds. For example, as noted in Morning Docket, then-Judge Stephen Breyer got dissed as a “rather cold fish” while being considered for a Supreme Court seat (the seat that ultimately went to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg).
The papers contain candid assessments of Justices Breyer and Ginsburg, as well as other fun nuggets. Here are some highlights:
* Vice Media is doing tremendous work exposing injustices. Perhaps they need to look into their own office. (UPDATE: Vice has changed its ways and now pays its interns.) [Capital New York]
* In a comical bout of karma, a landlord sued its blogger resident for alleged defamation. Next thing you know, HUD inspection records come to light. Let’s just say the landlord should be very unhappy that truth is a defense. [Columbus Dispatch]
* Check out the conclusion of ReplyAll’s conversation with John Grisham. [Above the Law]
* Do you think someone is not happy with Jones Foster’s billing practices?
There are lots of forms of purchase and exchange that we criminalize, for example, buying sex. We don’t say if someone wants to purchase the services of a prostitute, well that is just an expression of their speech.
– Professor Jamie Raskin of American Law dropping logic bombs all over Citizens United. Professor Raskin — who is also a politician himself — goes on to explain that the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence offers zero explanation why bribery is illegal but unlimited donations are not.
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