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Endogenous Jurisprudential Regimes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 January 2017

Xun Pang*
School of Humanities and Social Sciences, 314 Min Zhai Hall, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China 100084
Barry Friedman
New York University School of Law, 40 Washington Square South, 317, New York, NY 10012. e-mail:
Andrew D. Martin
Washington University School of Law, Campus Box 1120, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130. e-mail:
Kevin M. Quinn
University of California—Berkeley School of Law, 490 Simon #7200, Berkeley, CA 94720-7200. e-mail:
e-mail: (corresponding author)


Jurisprudential regime theory is a legal explanation of decision-making on the U.S. Supreme Court that asserts that a key precedent in an area of law fundamentally restructures the relationship between case characteristics and the outcomes of future cases. In this article, we offer a multivariate multiple change-point probit model that can be used to endogenously test for the existence of jurisprudential regimes. Unlike the previously employed methods, our model does so by estimating the locations of many possible change-points along with structural parameters. We estimate the model using Markov chain Monte Carlo methods, and use Bayesian model comparison to determine the number of change-points. Our findings are consistent with jurisprudential regimes in the Establishment Clause and administrative law contexts. We find little support for hypothesized regimes in the areas of free speech and search-and-seizure. The Bayesian multivariate change-point model we propose has broad potential applications to studying structural breaks in either regular or irregular time-series data about political institutions or processes.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Political Methodology 

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Authors' note: The authors thank Bert Kritzer, Mark Richards, and Jeff Segal for sharing replication data; Jude Hayes and Robert Walker, along with seminar participants at SLAMM 2010, NYU, and USC for helpful comments; Katie Schon, Jee Seon Jeon, and Rachael Hinkle for their research assistance; and the Filomen D'Agostino and Max E. Greenberg Research Fund at NYU School of Law, the Center for Empirical Research in the Law at Washington University, the Wang Xuelian Fund at Tsinghua University, and the National Science Foundation for supporting our research. The editor, R. Michael Alvarez, and two anonymous referees made suggestions that improved the article significantly. For replication data and code, see Pang et al. (2012). Supplementary materials for this article are available on the Political Analysis Web site.


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