Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
Maurits van der Veen
This thesis analyzes the authorship of Supreme Court opinions and the theory that Justices on that Court might be delegating portions, if not the majority, of opinion authorship to their clerks. I test the theories that as Justices age they are more likely to delegate, and that delegation has increased across all justices over the past several decades of the Court’s history. I employ a content analysis method known as stylometry to assign authorship attributions on a case by case basis and use those attributions to inform larger trends regarding authorship. I ultimately find that there is little evidence to support the age or time-period theories but that there is significant variation across Justices in attribution, indicating that clerks are likely playing a large and measurable role in opinion drafting.
Phillips, Blake, "Supreme Court Opinion Authorship Attribution on a Case-by-Case Basis" (2019). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 1430.
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