How do judges decide cases? Are judges more similar to other political actors than we might think? This course will address these questions by exploring contemporary political science scholarship on the U.S. courts. The class will cover the importance and measurement of judicial ideology, the role of ascriptive and professional characteristics of judges, strategic opinion assignment and writing, and the relationship of higher and lower courts. At the end of the course, students will be familiar with all major research areas within the field of judicial politics and will be able to undertake their own original research in the field.