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More on the New York Times Hypothesis:

And for those running a mental regression on the New York Times Hypothesis, its not clear how to code this outcome:

The Supreme Court reached opposite results yesterday in a pair of cases involving the Ten Commandments, upholding a display of the commandments on the grounds of the Texas Capitol, while striking down displays in Kentucky courthouses. The rulings will be criticized from all sides; we would have preferred the Texas case to have come out the other way. But taken together, they are an important reaffirmation of the nation's commitment to separation of church and state.

And just to clarify--the precise hypothesis, as I understand it, is that the best predictor of the outcomes in Supreme Court cases is the preference of intellectual and societal "elites." Because the preferences of this group is difficult to measure, if one were to run a regression, the operational variable that one could use to proxy for this variable would be the views of the New York Times Editorial Board.

So the hypothesis is that the prevailing views of the country's elites is the best predictor of outcomes in Supreme Court cases, as opposed to other variables (such as political ideology, general public preferences, etc.). The 10 Commandments case would be hard to code on that basis. (The Washington Post is similarly equivocal, "The court's approach may not be philosophically satisfying, but in practical terms, it isn't a bad way to evaluate public religious monuments.").

LizardBreath (mail):
This comment is to your prior post:

Todd, to you Thomas Jefferson isn't a Founder?
6.28.2005 3:16pm
Humble Law Student:
LizardBreath,

Come come now. If Thomas Jefferson meant his seperation line to be foundational constitutional doctrine, why did he say it only once in a letter to some Dansbury Baptist Convention in 1802? One would think that maybe it would appear more in the Constitutional Convention deliberations or maybe a federalist paper or two, or in other letters... But, alas, it does not.
6.28.2005 4:09pm
Humble Law Student:
LizardBreath,

Come come now. If Thomas Jefferson meant his seperation line to be foundational constitutional doctrine, why did he say it only once in a letter to some Dansbury Baptist Convention in 1802? One would think that maybe it would appear more in the Constitutional Convention deliberations or maybe a federalist paper or two, or in other letters... But, alas, it does not.
6.28.2005 4:09pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
Mr. Zywicky,

You analysis in this case fails Social Science 101. The editorial came after the Supreme Court opinion; so it seems to me you have it backwards with respect to your hypothesis about elite intellectual opinion being a predictor of Supreme Court cases.

Could it be that so-called "intellectual elites" are influenced by the Supreme Court? Perhaps that would explain the correlation.
6.28.2005 8:11pm
Goober (mail):
Mahan Atma makes a worthy observation. Also keep in mind that there easily could be a selection bias. If you coded -all- SCOTUS decisions that received a NYT editorial plea, any observed effect easily could disappear. For example, I'm pretty sure they went the other way on the Judith Miller &Matt Cooper case.

Humble Law Student---I very well may be wrong, but I don't think Jefferson was present at the Convention, and certainly wasn't an author of the Federalist. And is the point of "separation between church and state" really in its phrasing, rather than its intent? Cf., e.g., the Virginia Declaration.
6.28.2005 8:42pm