Document Type


Publication Date



Political Science


Over the past sixty years, the size of the Supreme Court’s docket has varied tremendously, growing at some points in time and shrinking at others. What accounts for this variation in the size of the docket? We focus on two key strategic factors – the predictability of outcomes within the Court, and whether justices consider the potential actions of other political institutions – and assess whether these factors help to explain the variation in docket size over time. We discover that uncertainty and institutional constraints prevent the Court from choosing cases with complete freedom, even after accounting for other potential influences on the size of the Court’s docket.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Justice System Journal on July 25, 2015, available online: