An Agent-Based Model of Judicial Strategy

Comparative scholarship in constitutional law and political science suggests that the power of courts depends, at least in part, on the strategic behavior of judges; judges can build and maintain power only if they are mindful of how other actors are likely to react to their decisions. Arguably, compliance is the most immediate measure of judicial power. An assertive court is not much good to anyone if its decisions are routinely ignored or defied. Previous studies of strategic judicial behavior have examined how judges seek to avoid noncompliance by restraining their rulings. Using an original agent-based model, this paper explores the performance of several stylized judicial strategies in an environment where there are multiple compliers/non-compliers and the probability of compliance/noncompliance is influenced by prior acts of compliance/noncompliance.