Limitations of the Attitudinal Model


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While the court enjoys a great amount of leeway in their decision-making process, this is by no means unrestrained. “Situations” apply in which the vote on certiorari, formation of the majority opinion, opinion assignment, and so on bound the range of possible Judicial decisions. Therefore, attitudes and values alone cannot account for the all factors guiding a justice’s process of decision making. Rather, they serve as the guiding principles that allow for a justice to rationally navigate the rules and situations facing the court. Thus, the open-ended model permitting limitless discretion cannot be wholly accurate. A pure attitudinal model may explain voting on the merits, but does not address the problem of opinion formation.

Glendon Shubert addressed the problem. He posits that justices’ vote for certiorari depends upon their predictions to what will happen according to the merit [Schubert et al., 1960]. Rhode and Spaeth as well examine the likelihood of the formation of “minimum winning opinion coalitions” when the court is facing threatening situations [Rohde and Spaeth, 1976]. Most importantly Maltzman, Spriggs, and Wahlbeck argue that the in order to solve the paradigm political scientists must move away from the attitudinal model ([Maltzman et al., 2000], 4).