Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Political Science


Political Science

Major Professor

Chervenak, Edward; Rosenblum, Marc

Second Advisor

Day, Christine


In 2006 an historic era of the Supreme Court came to a close with the retirement of its first female justice, Sandra Day O'Connor. This paper attempts to expand judicial behavior scholarship by examining O'Connor's policy preferences for possible ideological change during her twenty-five year tenure on the Court. Average liberalism scores for her overall and civil rights/civil liberties issue area votes show an increase in liberalism over time. The researcher employs time series cross section analysis with panel corrected standard errors to determine factors responsible for this increase. Issue change, interagreement with the other justices, changes in Court membership, ideological mood of the country, and political polarization account for the lion's share of the increase. Contrary to the prevailing attitudinal model, change of preference does occur; however, the issue of separating true preference change from other salient influences in a statistical model remains unresolved.


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