Analyzing Federal District Court Judicial Decision Making Using Content Analysis, Innovative Variables, and Logistic Regression

Abstract

This case study outlines my approach to answering intriguing questions about lower level federal judges and the factors that influence their decision-making processes in contemporary cases involving civil rights and civil liberties. The lack of recent studies on U.S. District Courts and these topics led me to create a new and unique data set using content analysis and innovative measures of particular variables of interest, including judicial ideology and state-level public opinion. I explain why I chose gay rights, abortion, and affirmative action cases for my data set, as well as how I found and coded all such cases decided between 1991 and 2012. I finish by describing how logistic regression and predicted probabilities helped showcase my interesting findings and make them accessible to all readers, including academics, legal practitioners, parties, and advocates.

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