To what extent do political actors anticipate judicial power? Courts with the power to review legislation are a restraint to politicians. Rational political actors should anticipate judicial review and adopt bills accordingly. This is called autolimitation. Not much is known about the empirical nature of the mechanism. I use a veto bargaining model to illustrate that legislative committees interpret prior court decisions as legal signals and modify bills accordingly. Subsequently, I isolate the causal effect of legal signals on committees by coding legal signals in committee reports and measuring policy shifts using text analysis. Robust findings show that autolimitation has minor effects on committees, but bills exposed to legal signals are drafted accounting for the court compared to bills that are not exposed to signals. Hence, judicial politics scholars need to more strongly account for the pre-legislative process. Moreover, legislative-judicial bargaining functions differently compared with inner-legislative bargain between opposing parties.
Submitted for review.