Perspectives of judicial behavior regularly fail to recognize the impact of judge attributes on decision making. This thesis seeks to integrate two theories of judicial behavior, the strategic perspective and the institutional perspective, by introducing the distribution of judge characteristics as an explanation of judicial behavior. While the strategic perspective reasons judges behave differently if threatened by retaliation from other political actors and the institutional perspective reasons judges decide differently based on whether they face an electorate, this thesis further considers whether heightened diversity creates collective action problems. This thesis suggests many factors affect the diversity of the courts. These factors include the risks and incentives of office that affect the motivation of office seekers. Risks and incentives include formal methods of selection, court structural characteristics, and the political environment. The forces that affect the distribution of preferences on courts may differently affect collective action problems where courts are more or less cohesive. Where forces vary, different forms of composition are expected. Where the distribution of preferences is highly dissimilar conflict is anticipated. Similarly, where the attractiveness of office contributes to more cohesive courts, consensus should materialize.
This dissertation includes an investigation of several forms of diversity, including gender, racial, ideological, and tenure diversity. The results show that risks and incentives of office structure the composition of the courts. In relation to consensus, several areas of policy are examined, including capital cases, non-violent crimes, taxation policy, and tort law policy. These analyses reveal that diversity has a significant effect; however, diversity's influence varies by methods of selection, with elected courts restricting the impact of diversity and appointed courts creating environments for sincere behavior. While conflict is influenced by the distribution of preferences and characteristics, consensus is highly dependent on the institutional determinants of diversity that structure collective action problems. This dissertation successfully reveals that the distribution of preferences and characteristics influences collective outcomes. Furthermore, this dissertation reveals that the composition of the courts shares a strong relationship with the risks and incentives of office, thus suggesting the attractiveness of office influences collective outcomes.