The Inter-Branch Struggle over Tort Reform: Testing a Separation of Powers Model in the State Context
This dissertation analyses the strategic interaction between state actors within the context of state tort reform. A formal state separation of powers model is developed that accounts for the preferences of the actors involved and the institutional structures that channel those preferences to produce certain policy outcomes. Hypotheses derived from the formal model are tested in the context of state tort reform and evaluated through quantitative analysis. I explain both legislative decisions to enact tort reform statutes and judicial review of tort reform statutes using data from all fifty states from 1975-2004 I find that the relationship between the state legislatures and supreme courts is conditioned by the broader political environment. The political environment acts as both a direct and indirect constraint on legislators and justices by providing cues about when inter-branch retaliation is likely to occur. This dissertation serves as both a general model of how policy is formulated under a system of separate powers, and a concrete explanation of how the tort reform movement has developed in the fifty states.