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This analysis springs from the need to resolve a paradox. The paradox is that 5–4 decisions from the post-World War II United States Supreme Court lean conservative—they are about 58% conservative. The explanation is that the median justice has tended to be ideologically closer to the next conservative justice than the next liberal justice. A coalition with the conservative wing has tended to be easier to form than with the liberal wing. The contribution is the comparison of three models of how 5–4 vote splits may occur.


Nicholas L. Georgakopoulos is the Harold R. Woodard Professor of Law, Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis.

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