The Baldy Center Podcast

Photograph: U.S. Supreme Court, interior.

Photograph: U.S. Supreme Court, interior.

Episode 26: Rachael Hinkle discusses how briefs and lawyer experience can influence Supreme Court decisions

Published March 2, 2022

Episode 26 features Rachael K. Hinkle, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University at Buffalo. Dr. Hinkle speaks about her forthcoming book, co-authored by Morgan Hazelton, Persuading the Supreme Court: The Significance of Briefs in Judicial Decision Making. Hinkle discusses the process of analyzing tens of thousands of briefs, who’s allowed to submit these briefs, and how these documents and who wrote them can influence Supreme Court decisions.

Keywords: Supreme Court, brief, amicus brief, Brandeis brief, court ruling, court decision, judicial decision

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The text of written arguments affects the text of the written law the Supreme Court establishes. Now, in aggregate, it also affects who wins and loses. The side that presents more information to the court - just pure bulk - when you add it all together, stack it up in a pile, and compare the stack for the two sides, the side with the higher stack is more likely to win.

We have the text of the briefs that are submitted, and we have the text of the ultimate majority opinion. So, there are computational AI-adjacent techniques that we use to measure the similarity between the text in the brief that's submitted and the ultimate majority opinion."

            – Rachael K. Hinkle (2022 Baldy Center Podcast)

Rachael K. Hinkle, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University at Buffalo

RESEARCH FOCUS: Public law; judicial politics; constitutional law; computational text analysis; quantitative methods

Rachael K. Hinkle discusses briefs, lawyer experience, and the influence they have on Supreme Court decisions.

Rachael K. Hinkle, PhD

Rachael K. Hinkle is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University at Buffalo, and a member of The Baldy Center Advisory Board. Her research agenda focuses on judicial politics with particular attention to gleaning insights into legal development from the content of judicial opinions through the use of computational text analytic techniques. Hinkle's work appears in places such as the American Journal of Political ScienceJournal of PoliticsJournal of Legal AnalysisLaw and Society Review, and Justice System Journal.

Faculty Profile: Rachael K. Hinkle, PhD 

2021-22 Podcast Producer

Edgar Girtain, Podcast 2021-22 Host/Producer.

Edgar Girtain, Podcast 2021-22 Host/Producer

Edgar Girtain is host/producer of the 2021-22 Edition of The Baldy Center Podcast. He is a PhD student in the music department at SUNY Buffalo, where he studies with David Felder. Girtain is a director of the Casa de Las Artes at the University of Southern Chile (UACh), and president of the Southern Chilean Composers Forum (FoCo Sur).He is an eminent composer, pianist, and writer of his own biographies. Girtain's diverse areas of work are often collaborative, cross-disciplinary, and international in ambition if not in practice.

Executive Producers

Samantha Barbas, PhD
Professor, UB School of Law
Director, The Baldy Center

Caroline Funk, PhD
Associate Director, The Baldy Center

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