DYNAMIC AGENDA-SETTING ON THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT:
AN EMPIRICAL ASSESSMENT
Published in 2002. Harvard Journal on Legislation 39: 395-433.
(Revised version of papers presented at the 1997 meeting of the
Conference Group on the Scientific Study of Judicial Politics and
the 1997 annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science
Jeffrey A. Segal
Jennifer Nicoll Victor
Because agenda setting is one of the most important activities
undertaken by Supreme Court justices, it is hardly surprising to
find a rather large body of literature devoted to how they go
about performing this task. What is surprising is that the bulk
of the agenda-setting literature views the justices in isolation,
establishing their own policy priorities with little attention to
the preferences and likely actions of actors in other political
Based on a strategic account of agenda setting, we call for a
reexamination of this position. Specifically, we argue that
Supreme Court justices may be attentive to the preferences and
likely actions of members of other political institutions when
they go about establishing their agendas, if they hope to
maximize their preferences. Because our findings support this
claim, we conclude that studies of Court agenda setting, which do
not take account of constraints imposed by actors in other
institutions, may ignore the realities of the American separation
of powers system.
for the article (.pdf).
here for the Conference Group paper (.pdf).
here for the Midwest paper (.pdf).
for the data.