Honors Theses

Date of Award

Fall 11-30-2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Political Science

First Advisor

Charles E. Smith

Second Advisor

John M. Czarnetsky

Third Advisor

Miles T. Armaly

Relational Format



This thesis seeks to explore natural courts and ideology among members of the Supreme Court. Most studies of the Supreme Court allocate focus to the chief justice such that the justice and his ideology determines whether the Court will be described as liberal or conservative for the chief's tenure. However, this thesis questions this model of distinction for the highest court in the land. An analysis of natural courts from Marshall through Roberts specifically targets the highest and lowest ideological shifts between natural courts to understand how vacancies and replacements manipulate the ideology of the Court. In addition to the changes in justices on the Court, this thesis investigates how the length of a natural court affects voting behavior. The analysis of these two factors leads the author to conclude that the current model of labeling a given court is insufficient in capturing the ideology. While a change in the chief justice may shift the ideology of the Court one way or the other, such evidence only further substantiates the claim that it is the most junior justice who determines the ideological shift of the Court.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Available for download on Saturday, April 30, 2022