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Judicial Review: Birth of a Notion

The members of the U.S. Supreme Court have different ideas about what constitutes good judicial policy as well as how best to achieve that policy. From where do these ideas originate? Professor Kevin T. McGuire (PoliSci, UNC Chapel Hill) explains:

Evolutionary psychology suggests that an answer may lie in early life experiences in which siblings assume roles that affect an adult’s likely acceptance of changes in the established order. According to this view, older siblings take on responsibilities that make them more conservative and rule-bound, while younger ones adopt roles that promote liberalism and greater rebelliousness. Applying this theory to the Court, I show that these childhood roles manifest themselves in later life in the decisions of the justices. Birth order explains not only the justices’ policy preferences but also their acceptance of one important norm of judicial decisionmaking, specifically their willingness to exercise judicial review.

McGuire, “Birth Order, Preferences, and Norms on the U.S. Supreme Court,” 49 Law & Society Review 945 (2015)

What the country needs is a one-child policy.

Forthcoming in the next issue of Law & Society Review: breast-feeding explains originalism.

Reader Discussion

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on February 05, 2016 at 10:00:36 am

Ha! Admittedly, it seems a bit much to imagine that birth order could wield such overweening influence as to explain the perspective of specific individuals who were selected on the basis of all kinds of considerations.

But more seriously, we might expect to find even small systemic influences on personality to have manifestation on society at large. So to the extent that birth order does influence personalities, we might expect the decline of family size to make society at large more rule-loving and risk-averse. (And we might expect this dynamic to be especially pronounced in China.)

Similarly, we might expect societies that experience lots of war to come to regard the paranoia induced by post-traumatic stress to be normal.

Similarly, the military draft might provide a good testing ground for horoscopes: Historically people were drafted based on their birth dates. So if horoscopes were predictors of ANYTHING, shouldn't we expect to find that manifest in basic training/boot camps as they filled up with people who had similar horoscopes?)

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nobody.really
on February 05, 2016 at 10:55:31 am

Stretching it a bit here, aren't we?

As for the draft, registration with the Selective Service was contingent upon birth date (or astrological sign, if one wishes to go that far) but induction was determined by the local draft boards determination of need. This would vary from district to district and whatever the effect of Gemini or Taurus influences was probably offset by the rather large numbers of voluntary enlistees thrown into the mix.

As for "rule-loving" and family size, US family size has declined - are we more rule loving? Debatable.

Nah!!! We have to look somewhere else for all the fiddling and diddling going on under the Black Robes garments.

Hey, do you think Planned Parenthood would change its perspective if Greve's thesis / proposal for one child families was to prove out?

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gabe
on February 05, 2016 at 12:04:28 pm

Thus are we treated to the "publish or perish" mantra of academia.

But, why "Breast-feeding" instead of Comparative Omphalic Analysis as it may relate to omphaloskepsis?

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R Richard Schweitzer
on February 05, 2016 at 12:56:29 pm

Well that is because the billowing (hot air blown, of course) gowns of the Black Robes hides the belly button -
thus they gaze off into some utopian distance!!!!

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gabe
on February 05, 2016 at 15:19:53 pm

Then again, I suppose we ought not to worry as so much of what is published is perish-able!

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gabe

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.