Ellen E. Deason


Judges' decisions must rank among the most documented types of decisionmaking. At the appellate level, in particular, the arguments made to judges are a matter of record and the decisions are recorded in written opinions that provide a reasoned explanation. Yet there are many unknowns about this decisionmaking process. This article draws on information found in the Blackmun Papers collection at the Library of Congress to explore Supreme Court decisionmaking as illustrated in the series of cases that opened the door to welcome arbitration of statutory claims. I The cases brought about the weakening and eventual abrogation of a long-standing precedent and the papers shed some light on the incremental steps by which this happened. The Justice's individual explanations for their votes reveal an exercise of discretion based on varying rationales - principles of statutory interpretation, policy leanings, and concern for the practical- effect of the Court's decisions - that are intertwined with the question of the reach and continuing validity of one of the Court's major arbitration precedents.

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