Politics, Identity, and Pleading on the U.S. Courts of Appeals

We report the results of an empirical study of appeals from rulings on motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) after the Supreme Court’s decisions in Twombly and Iqbal. We first describe the role that pleading was intended to play in the original (1938) Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, review the Court’s decisions in Twombly and Iqbal, and offer a brief discussion of common themes in normative scholarship that is critical of Twombly and Iqbal, including the claim that they threaten to amplify ideological and subjective decision-making, particularly in civil rights cases.

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