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Constitutional Law

Jan. 4, 2019

Politically Impartial Justices Not Just 'Useful Fiction' on California Supreme Court

As U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts tries to minimize perceptions of politically motivated federal courts, the California Constitution Center has published a quantitative study showing that partisan background is, in fact, a poor predictor of California Supreme Court justice voting behavior. Brandon Stracener, the group's senior research fellow, discusses his study's finding on that and other points. Meanwhile, Professor Richard Abel (UCLA Law) explains how his new scholarship undercuts Roberts' efforts, and whether the 'useful fiction' of a neutral judiciary has merit, anyway. Plus, criminal justice reporter Paula Ewing describes a rare move of the state high court to block several of departing Gov. Brown's grants of clemency.

Brandon V. Stracener

Senior Research Fellow, California Constitution Center


Richard L. Abel

Michael J. Connell Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus; Distinguished Research Professor, UCLA School of Law



Brian Cardile

Rulings Editor, Podcast Host, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reporter

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