Expertise, Experience, and Ideology on Specialized Courts: The Case of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
What roles do prior expertise and accumulated experience play in shaping ideologically consistent voting on a specialized court? Using a dataset of obviousness patent cases from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit spanning 1997–2007, we show that prior expertise enhances the influence of ideology on judicial decisionmaking, but that accumulated experience does not. In addition, we build on previous work and show that ideology is a factor in decisionmaking in technical areas of law, contrary to the received wisdom on patent cases.
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