“[Insert Judicial Nominee Here] is Out of the Political Mainstream”

Corey Yung

Corey Rayburn Yung is a Professor at the University of Kansas School of Law. His scholarship primarily focuses on sexual violence, substantive criminal law, and judicial decision-making. Yung’s academic writings have been cited by state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States. Before Yung began his professorial career, he served as an associate for Shearman & Sterling in New York and clerked for the Honorable Michael J. Melloy of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

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5 Responses

  1. Bryan Gividen says:

    The working paper is interesting. I read the abstract, glanced over introductory paragraphs, and looked at the regression results. I searched for why the D.C. Circuit was excluded, but I didn’t find anything. Is there a reason for that exclusion?

  2. anon says:

    Of course, Goodwin Lui cannot complain about someone using the “out of mainstream” motto to oppose him because he used that same motto to oppose Alito. What goes around comes around. Meanwhile, for those of us who actually read opinions, Sotomayor has long been known as a mediocre judge — her circuit court opinions were nothing but long repetitions of facts and lower-court reasoning, with very thin analysis of her own panel’s decision. Thoroughly useless for precedential purposes. But you can’t seriously raise these issues in the confirmation process — the public doesn’t much care whether a judge is borderline incompetent as a jurist (as Sotomayor surely was); the public only cares how the judge ruled in some politically-charged case, or what the judge wrote in some student-edited leaflet. Sad.

  3. Corey Yung says:


    Because my first idea leading to the gathering of the data was related to my measurement for judicial activism, I was particularly concerned with standards of review. I also hoped to create a measure that would allow for inter-circuit comparisons. In that regard, the D.C. Circuit’s high percentage of administrative law cases with unique standard of review issues made it a bit difficult to integrate. So, I omitted the D.C. Circuit (as well as the Federal Circuit) from my data.

    However, I’m currently in the process of gathering 2009 case data which includes the D.C. and Federal Circuit. I plan to publish scores based upon that data when the dataset construction is complete.


  4. Aren’t there two distinct political “mainstreams”? The elected politician mainstream, and the public mainstream? The existence of issues such as term limits, or illegal immigration, where the opinion of office holders persistently diverges from public opinion would suggest this.

    If that’s the case, it’s quite possible for a judge to be in one mainstream, and well outside the other. (Which they’d likely be in depending on how they got into office…)

  5. Corey Yung says:

    Hi Brett,

    There very well may be multiple political “mainstreams.” Indeed, I would typically expect that the judiciary should reflect a different “mainstream” because it serves a different role in our political system. Judges are charged with finding what is legal and not is what is desirable. The “mainstream” of the judiciary would certainly overlap the public, but is ultimately of a different sort. My research only pertains to the ideologies of judges. I make no attempts to connect that to the general public’s thoughts.