New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers

Document Type



To date, no study has found evidence that the U.S. Supreme Court is constrained by Congress in its constitutional decisions. We addressed the selection bias inherent in previous studies with a statute-centered, rather than a case-centered, analysis, following all congressional laws enacted between 1987 and 2000. We uncovered considerable congressional constraint in the Court's constitutional rulings. In particular, we found that the probability that the Rehnquist Court would strike a liberal congressional law rose between 47% and 288% as a result of the 1994 congressional elections, depending on the legislative model used.

Date of Authorship for this Version

July 2007