Leverage in Legislation: When do State Legislatures Rely on the Judiciary

Pennington, Alexander, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Potter, Rachel, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Volden, Craig, Frank Batten School of Leadership & Public Policy, University of Virginia

Legislatures carry an enormous responsibility to create and pass laws. They also have an electoral interest in ensuring these laws are enforced correctly. The extensive responsibility of bureaucratic oversight at the federal level is executed by the fully professional United States Congress. State legislatures must also oversee the bureaucratic actions in their state, however these law-making bodies differ in their capacity to execute this oversight due to their large differences in professionalism. States with fewer resources may bridge the gap in resources by leveraging ex-ante and ex-post controls of government agencies written into legislation as a substitute for oversight capacity. Through such controls the legislature can activate a judicial branch to act as a substitute and relieve the law-making bodies with less capacity of their oversight burden.

Using a graded response model of enabling statutes, I estimate the latent measure of 'judicial access' from the legislature in licensing bills and Administrative Procedure Acts. I hypothesize that judicial access will increase when a state is less professional. In addition legislatures will decrease judicial access when the executive is the sole appointer of judges. I also observe an interaction of professionalism and judicial selection methods in the state with mixed results.

MA (Master of Arts)
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