Sidebar publishes response to Judging the Voting Rights Act

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Columbia Law Review’s Sidebar is pleased to announce the publication of a response to Judging the Voting Rights Act by Adam B. Cox and Thomas J. Miles.

Professors Cox and Miles’ study found that judicial ideology and race are closely related to findings of liability in voting rights cases. In their response Professors Staudt and VanderWeele argue that, because Cox and Miles failed to investigate the possibility of dependencies between the variables they were studying, their results may be biased. Staudt and VanderWeele develop an alternative approach for exploring the effects of judicial attributes on voting using causal directed acyclic graphs. This methodology can help empirical researchers investigate the relationships between variables in order to posit statistical models with appropriate controls and to identify true cause and effect relationships when they exist. While this methodology has become popular in a number of disciplines—including statistics, biostatistics, epidemiology, and computer science—and is widely believed to be a valuable tool for empirical research, it has yet to appear in the empirical law literature. Staudt and VanderWeele offer a brief introduction of the method in their response in order to initiate discussion as to its worth in empirical legal studies.

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