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The Publication of Precedents and Its Effect on Legislative Behavior


  • I would like to thank the three anonymous referees and the editors, Dave Canon and Sarah Binder, for advice that improved the manuscript. For their constructive suggestions and expertise, I also thank Bob Dove, Gerald Gamm, Claudine Gay, Forrest Maltzman, Elizabeth Rybicki, and especially Stan Bach and Steve Smith.


What was the effect of the publication of the precedents in the House in the late nineteenth century? Empirical analysis demonstrates a significant effect of the publication of the House precedents on the behavior of members' willingness to appeal decisions of the chair. Publication of the precedents reduced the frequency of appeals, a finding consistent with the qualitative arguments of past parliamentarians but never before demonstrated empirically. Further, parallel analysis of the Senate reveals that the publication effect found for the House is not an artifact of some secular trend in legislative behavior, doing so by showing that no similar pattern occurs in the Senate during the same period of time.

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