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Younger Federal District Court Judges Favor Presidential Power

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From 1960 to 2015, opinions of US federal district court judges (trial judges) in cases involving challenges to executive branch authority show that these judges favor executive authority less as they age. We suggest that district judges know that elevation to the federal circuit court of appeals becomes increasingly improbable, and hence have less reason to cooperate with the executive, with advancing age. Political variables, seniority of judges, and other variables introduced as extra regressors do not reverse this main result, nor does it appear to be the product of cohort effects or selection off the district court. When there are contemporaneous vacancies on their circuit courts, district judges in the 11 state circuits (but not the District of Columbia Circuit) are also more likely to favor the executive.

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