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Testing the implications of incivility in the United States Congress, 1977–2000: The case of judicial confirmation delay†

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The research argues that there are two empirically distinct types of conflict in the United States Congress. The first is partisan conflict or the relative divergence of the two major parties on policy issues. The second is the level of civility that characterises legislative processes in the country. Two unique measures of ‘civility' are developed. The first is based on media reporting and the second on the coding of almanac summaries. The new indices are tested in an event history analysis of judicial confirmation delay that controls for partisan conflict and a multitude of logistical and contextual concerns that earlier research has argued are important. The analysis is fruitful; measures of partisan conflict are significant as are many other concerns. Most notably, however, the new indicators of aggregate civility perform as expected, and the delay prospective jurists experience can also be attributed to changes in levels of civility.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Political Science, University of Central Florida, Orlando

Publication date: March 1, 2005


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