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date: 24 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The study of courts has been tremendously advanced via the availability of data, key to an empirical, scientific analysis of the decision-making of the political actors that make up the judiciary. Data availability has also enabled a rich and complete description of the courts’ work. This chapter considers the evolution of the study of the subfield of political science that considers judges and courts with particular focus on the role of data therein. It concludes that the Spaeth database, and other, similar multi-user publicly available databases, have had a huge influence on the evolution of public law into mainstream political science. While some argue over the specifics of the plethora of coding decisions made in the creation of such databases, the positive impact they have had on the scholarship about courts cannot be overstated.

Keywords: Spaeth database, judicial behavior, Supreme Court, public law, legal realism, behavioralism, quantitative analyses, multi-user databases

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