Join us for our anniversary celebration event! Learn More

Judicial Specialization and Deference in Asylum Cases on the US Courts of Appeals


Maureen Stobb
Associate Professor of Political Science
Department of Political Science and International Studies
Director of the Office of Pre-Law Advising
Georgia Southern University

Many look to the federal courts as an avenue of control of the growing administrative state. Some advocate the creation of specialized federal courts of appeals in policy areas such as immigration and social security. Yet little is known about whether repeat exposure to specific types of cases enables federal judges to overcome doctrines of deference, and whether such an effect would be policy neutral.  In this talk, Stobb will discuss her research with colleagues using a sample of over 4000 cases decided by the US Courts of Appeals between 2002 and 2017 to see whether exposure to asylum cases over time emboldens federal judges to challenge administrative asylum decisions and assert their personal policy preferences. Their findings not only address important questions raised by bureaucracy and court scholars, but inform a salient public debate concerning the proper treatment of those seeking refuge within our borders.