Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Women, Politics and Policy


gender and judging, state supreme courts, opinion writing


In this article, we argue that the leadership of women as chief justice or the majority opinion author, as well as an increased presence of women on the panel, should increase the likelihood of unanimous decisions and the size of majority coalitions in state supreme courts. Using an original dataset of cases in three policy areas from all state supreme courts from 1990-2015, we uncover some surprising results. In some issue areas, majority coalitions are larger when a woman serves as the majority opinion author, though we see smaller coalitions when more women are on the court and a man is assigned to write the majority opinion. Taken together, our results suggest that the role of gender diversity and women’s leadership in the opinion-writing process may be more complex than previously understood.

Funding Source

This research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation Law and Social Sciences Program and an American Political Science Association Small Research Grant.



This is the accepted manuscript of an article first published in Journal of Women, Politics & Policy 41, no. 3 (2020): 278-302.