Essays on Causality, Race, and the Law
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CitationSen, Maya. 2012. Essays on Causality, Race, and the Law. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
AbstractMaking causal inferences about race is difficult because no means exist to manipulate units into treatment and control groups. Chapter 1 addresses this predicament. First, I argue that race should be defined as a composite measure in which some elements are mutable. Second, I note that identifying the units of analysis is particularly important when thinking about race. These extensions allow us to synthesize two instances in which causal inferences regarding race may be permissible: (1) studies that measure the effect of exposing an entity to a racial cue and (2) studies that disaggregate race into constituent pieces and measure the effect of a mutable element. Chapters 2 and 3 provide examples of the first “exposure” approach in the context of judicial politics. Chapter 2 analyzes the role of race and gender in judicial confirmations and demonstrates that minority and female nominees to federal courts are awarded lower qualification ratings by the American Bar Association (ABA) than are white and male nominees. This is the case even when comparing only judges with similar education, ideologies, and experiences. Furthermore, I present results showing that ABA qualification scores are not predictive of judges’ reversal rates. Chapter 3 explores what happens once minority judges are confirmed. Focusing specifically on African Americans, I show that opinions authored by black judges are overturned more than cases authored by whites. The effect is robust and persists after taking into account measures of judicial qualifications, previous professional and judicial experience, and partisanship. Taken together, Chapters 2 and 3 have clear implications: despite attempts to make judiciary more reflective of the U.S. population, racial disparities continue to persist.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9306421
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