May 29, 2016

I’ma let you finish

Adam Feldman runs the blog Empirical SCOTUS, with analyses of data on the Supreme Court of the United States. He has a recent post (via Mother Jones) showing how often each judge was interrupted by other judges last year:

Interrupted

For those of you who don’t follow this in detail, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor are women.

Looking at the other end of the graph, though, shows something that hasn’t been taken into account. Clarence Thomas wasn’t interrupted at all. That’s not primarily because he’s a man; it’s primarily because he almost never says anything.

Interpreting the interruptions really needs some denominator. Fortunately, we have denominators. Adam Feldman wrote another post about them.

Here’s the number interruptions per 1000 words, with the judges sorted in order of  how much they speak

perword

And here’s the same thing with interruption per 100 ‘utterances’

perutterance

It’s still pretty clear that the female judges are interrupted more often (yes, this is statistically significant (though not very)). Taking the amount of speech into account makes the differences smaller, but, interestingly, also shows that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is interrupted relatively often.

Denominators do matter.

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Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »

Comments

  • avatar
    steve curtis

    Seems to be some correlation to time served on the court as well. Ginsburg has been 22 years, while the other two women are both 5-7 years only.

    10 months ago Reply

    • avatar
      Megan Pledger

      Time since appointment is also correlated with which party made the appointment.

      10 months ago Reply

      • avatar
        Megan Pledger

        It would be interesting to see how many times a Republican appointed judge interrupted a Democratic appointed judge and vice versa (and dem/dem, rep/rep)

        10 months ago Reply

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