Essays on Causality, Race, and the Law

DSpace/Manakin Repository

Essays on Causality, Race, and the Law

Citable link to this page


Title: Essays on Causality, Race, and the Law
Author: Sen, Maya
Citation: Sen, Maya. 2012. Essays on Causality, Race, and the Law. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
Full Text & Related Files:
Research Data:
Abstract: Making 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.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at
Citable link to this page:
Downloads of this work:

Show full Dublin Core record

This item appears in the following Collection(s)


Search DASH

Advanced Search