West Virginia Law Review

Document Type



A leading theory in the study of judicial behavior is the attitudinal model. This theory maintains that a judge's political ideology can be used to predict how a judge will decide certain cases; other factors, such as the judge's judicial philosophy, tend to be unimportant. Under this theory, two judges with the same political ideology, but different judicial philosophies, should virtually always vote the same way in cases with pre­dicted ideological outcomes. This manuscript tests the attitudinal model by examin­ing opinions by two judges with very similar political ideologies but different judicial philosophies: Judge Michael Luttig and Judge Harvie Wilkinson III of the US. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. After defining the judges' political ideologies and judicial philosophies, this study examines "political" cases in which one of these judges wrote the majority opinion and the other dissented. The result of the study is that when these judges came to different conclusions in these ideological cases, it is likely they did so on the basis of their judicial philosophies. In short, contra the attitudinal model, at least in some cases judi­cial philosophy does matter.



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