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The View from the Bench and Chambers

Examining Judicial Process and Decision Making on the U.S. Courts of Appeals
Jennifer Barnes Bowie, Donald R. Songer, and John Szmer

BUY Cloth · 296 pp. · 6.125 × 9.25 · ISBN 9780813935997 · $45.00 · Oct 2014
BUY Ebook · 296 pp. · ISBN 9780813936000 · $45.00 · Oct 2014

For most of their history, the U.S. courts of appeals have toiled in obscurity, well out of the limelight of political controversy. But as the number of appeals has increased dramatically, while the number of cases heard by the Supreme Court has remained the same, the courts of appeals have become the court of last resort for the vast majority of litigants. This enhanced status has been recognized by important political actors, and as a result, appointments to the courts of appeals have become more and more contentious since the 1990s. This combination of increasing political salience and increasing political controversy has led to the rise of serious empirical studies of the role of the courts of appeals in our legal and political system.

At once building on and contributing to this wave of scholarship, The View from the Bench and Chambers melds a series of quantitative analyses of judicial decisions with the perspectives gained from in-depth interviews with the judges and their law clerks. This multifaceted approach yields a level of insight beyond that provided by any previous work on appellate courts in the United States, making The View from the Bench and Chambers the most comprehensive and rich account of the operation of these courts to date.


The View from the Bench and Chambers brings to bear a high-quality blend of quantitative and qualitative evidence in assaying the power of the various dominant models of judicial behavior. In addition, the book offers a good deal of new information about the mechanics and logistics regarding the handling of cases from start to finish by the courts of appeals. Not merely interesting trivia, this constitutes information scholars must bear in mind when they are developing theory and devising tests of those theories.

Wendy L. Martinek, Binghamton University, coauthor of Judging on a Collegial Court: Influences on Federal Appellate Decision Making

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