Judge Ideology and Opportunistic Insider Trading

Allen H. Huang, Kai Wai Hui, and Yue Zheng

♦ Although federal judges are the ultimate arbiters of insider trading enforcement, the role of their political ideology in insider trading is unclear. Using the partisanship of judges’ nominating presidents to measure judge ideology, we first document that liberal judges are associated with heavier penalties in insider trading lawsuits than conservative judges. Next, we find that firms located in circuits with more liberal judges have fewer opportunistic insider sales. Cross-sectional analyses show that this deterrent effect is stronger when managers face a higher risk of insider trading lawsuits. Finally, we find that the SEC considers judges’ ideology when selecting litigation forums.

Read it here.