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Keeping the Outliers in Line? Judicial Review of State Laws by the U.S. Supreme Court


  • The authors will share all data for replication. Thanks to J. Mitchell Pickerill for his helpful comments on this project.

Direct correspondence to Matthew E. K. Hall, Department of Political Science and School of Law, Saint Louis University, McGannon Hall 154, 3750 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 <>.



Proponents of the “regime politics” approach argue that the U.S. Supreme Court tends to promote the interests of the dominant partisan coalition even while engaging in seemingly countermajoritarian behavior. These scholars suggest that the Court's invalidation of state laws is used to enforce a national consensus against outlier states. We argue this claim does not withstand empirical analysis.


We employ logistic regression analysis to evaluate the relationship between the invalidation of state laws by the Court and the ideological distance between the sitting national government and the state government that enacted the law.


Our analysis fails to find support for the regime enforcement hypothesis; in fact, we find evidence of a negative relationship between ideological distance and invalidation.


Our findings suggest that regime politics scholars have underestimated the Court's countermajoritarian role in reviewing state legislation.