The Jacob Marschak Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Mathematics in the Behavioral Sciences at UCLA


WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2017 | 3 to 4:30 P.M.

Reservations are requested to Marschak RSVP

The Decline of Supreme Court Deference to the President

Speaker: Lee Epstein, Ethan A.H. Shepley Distinguished University Professor, Washington University in St. Louis

Faculty Host: Stuart Banner, Norman Abrams Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law

Entrenched conventional wisdom suggests that the president of the United States enjoys considerable advantages over the other litigants in the U.S. Supreme Court because of the central role of the presidency in the U.S. government and the expertise and experience of the Solicitor General’s office. However, a new analysis of the data reveals that this is out of date. The historical dominance of the president in Supreme Court cases reached its apex during the Reagan administration, which won nearly eighty percent of the cases, and has declined steadily since then. During the Obama administration, the presidency experienced its lowest rate, barely fifty percent.

Lee Epstein will discuss this research, which she conducted with Eric A. Posner at the University of Chicago; document the downward trend; and suggest possible explanations. The researchers found evidnec that the trend may be due to the court’s growing self-assertion and the development of a specialized private Supreme Court bar. However, they found no evidence for two other possible explanations: greater executive overreaching or ideological disagreements between the court and the presidency.

Epstein is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Political and Social Science. She serves as co-director of the Center for Empirical Research in the Law, lecturer in law at the University of Chicago, and a principal investigator of the U.S. Supreme Court Database project.

Light refreshments will be served.