Litigant partisan identity and challenges to campaign finance policies: An examination of U.S. District Court decisions, 1971-2007

Kyle C. Kopko, Elizabethtown College


This study seeks to determine if the partisan affiliation (Democrat or Republican) of a plaintiff challenging a local, state, or federal campaign finance policy influences the case votes of U.S. district court judges. Using an original database of campaign finance cases decided between 1971 and 2007, I find that judges do not systematically favor challenges filed by plaintiffs who share the judge's partisan affiliation. However, judges are statistically less likely to favor challenges filed by plaintiffs who are members of an opposing major political party. These results indicate that plaintiffs who do not share a judge's partisan affiliation are at a disadvantage when challenging campaign finance policies.