Law, Politics, and Perception
Are judges' decisions more likely to be based on personal inclinations or legalauthority? The answer, Eileen Braman argues, is both. Law, Politics, and Perception brings cognitivepsychology to bear on the question of the relative importance of norms of legal reasoning versusdecision markers' policy preferences in legal decision-making. While Braman acknowledges thatdecision makers' attitudes-or, more precisely, their preference for policy outcomes-canplay a significant role in judicial decisions, she also believes that decision-makers' beliefthat they must abide by accepted rules of legal analysis significantly limits the role ofpreferences in their judgements. To reconcile these competing factors, Braman posits that judgesengage in ",motivated reasoning,", a biased process in which decision-makers are unconsciouslypredisposed to find legal authority that is consistent with their own preferences more convincingthan those that go against them. But Braman also provides evidence that the scope of motivatedreasoning is limited. Objective case facts and accepted norms of legal reasoning can often inhibitdecision makers' ability to reach conclusions consistent with their preferences.
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