In a previous issue of this journal, Smyth and Narayan (2004) examine structural change in the level of consensus on the High Court of Australia. In this article we adopt a similar strategy to that employed in Smyth and Narayan (2004) to estimate both the number and location of structural breaks in concurring and dissenting opinions on the U.S. Supreme Court. Although it has commonly been believed that there has been one regime shift on the U.S. Supreme Court, corresponding to the breakdown in the consensual norm in the 1930s or 1940s, we find that there have been three breaks in consensus. We find that two of the three breaks in dissenting opinions correspond closely to the beginning of the terms of Taney and Stone as Chief Justice, with the third occurring in the middle of Chase's term. We find that two of the three breaks in concurring opinions correspond closely to the beginning of the terms of Taney and Hughes and that the third break in concurring opinions occurs in the middle of the Warren Court.
Field of Research
140210 International Economics and International Finance