Get access

Experts Judging Experts: The Role of Expertise in Reviewing Agency Decision Making


  • The authors thank Larry Baum, Nathan Cristler, and Rich Pacelle for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article. A previous version of this work was presented at the 2010 Southern Political Science Association Conference in Atlanta.

Banks Miller is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas at Dallas. He can be reached at

Brett Curry is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Georgia Southern University. He can be reached at


What role does judicial subject matter expertise play in the review of agency decisions? Using a data set of decisions in which the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) is reviewed by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, we investigate this question and find that greater subject matter expertise does make it more likely that a judge will vote to reverse an agency decision.