Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, Robert McCloskey’s classic work on the Supreme Court’s role in constructing the U.S. Constitution has introduced generations of students to the workings of our nation’s highest court. For this new fifth edition, Sanford Levinson extends McCloskey’s magisterial treatment to address the Court’s most recent decisions.
As in prior editions, McCloskey’s original text remains unchanged. In his historical interpretation, he argues that the strength of the Court has always been its sensitivity to the changing political scene, as well as its reluctance to stray too far from the main currents of public sentiments. In two revised chapters, Levinson shows how McCloskey’s approach continues to illuminate developments since 2005, including the Court’s decisions in cases arising out of the War on Terror, which range from issues of civil liberty to tests of executive power. He also discusses the Court’s skepticism regarding campaign finance regulation; its affirmation of the right to bear arms; and the increasingly important nomination and confirmation process of Supreme Court justices, including that of the first Hispanic justice, Sonia Sotomayor.
The best and most concise account of the Supreme Court and its place in American politics, McCloskey's wonderfully readable book is an essential guide to the past, present, and future prospects of this institution.
For more than fifty years, Robert G. McCloskey’s classic work on the Supreme Court’s role in constructing the US Constitution has introduced generations of students to the workings of our nation’s highest court.
As in prior editions, McCloskey’s original text remains unchanged. In his historical interpretation, he argues that the strength of the Court has always been its sensitivity to the changing political scene, as well as its reluctance to stray too far from the main currents of public sentiment. In this new edition, Sanford Levinson extends McCloskey’s magisterial treatment to address developments since the 2010 election, including the Supreme Court’s decisions regarding the Defense of Marriage Act, the Affordable Care Act, and gay marriage.
The best and most concise account of the Supreme Court and its place in American politics, McCloskey's wonderfully readable book is an essential guide to the past, present, and future prospects of this institution.
Federal judges are not just robots or politicians in robes, yet their behavior is not well understood, even among themselves. Using statistical methods, a political scientist, an economist, and a judge construct a unified theory of judicial decision-making to dispel the mystery of how decisions from district courts to the Supreme Court are made.
Tamara R. Piety argues that increasingly expansive First Amendment protections for commercial speech imperil public health, safety, and welfare; the reliability of commercial and consumer information; the stability of financial markets; and the global environment. Using evidence from public relations and marketing, behavioral economics, psychology, and cognitive studies, she shows how overly permissive extensions of protections to commercial expression limit governmental power to address a broad range of public policy issues.
The Chief Justice brings together leading scholars of the courts who employ social science theory and research to explain the role of the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. They consider the chief justice’s appointment, office, powers, and influence both within the Court and in the American system of government more generally. The chief justice presides over oral arguments and the justices’ private conferences. The chief justice speaks first in those conferences, presents cases and other matters to the other justices, and assigns the Court’s opinions in all cases in which the chief justice votes with the majority. In addition, the chief justice presides over the Judicial Conference of the United States, a policy-making body composed of lower-court federal judges. As Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes wrote, the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court is “the most important judicial officer in the world.”
Since 1940, more than half of all states have switched at least in part from popular election or elite appointment to experiment with merit selection in choosing some or all of their state supreme court justices. Under merit selection, a commission—often comprising some combination of judges, attorneys, and the general public—is tasked with considering applications from candidates vying to fill a judicial vacancy. Ostensibly, the commission forwards the best candidates to the governor, who ultimately appoints them. Presently, numerous states are debating whether to adopt or abolish merit selection.
In his short, sharp book, Choosing State Supreme Court Justices, Greg Goelzhauser utilizes new data on more than 1,500 state supreme court justices seated from 1960 through 2014 to answer the question, Does merit selection produce better types of judges? He traces the rise of merit selection and explores whether certain judicial selection institutions favor candidates who have better qualifications, are more diverse, and have different types of professional experience.
Goelzhauser’s results ultimately contribute to the broader debate concerning comparative institutional performance with respect to state judicial selection.
Are judges supposed to be objective? Citizens, scholars, and legal professionals commonly assume that subjectivity and objectivity are opposites, with the corollary that subjectivity is a vice and objectivity is a virtue. These assumptions underlie passionate debates over adherence to original intent and judicial activism.
In Common Law Judging, Douglas Edlin challenges these widely held assumptions by reorienting the entire discussion. Rather than analyze judging in terms of objectivity and truth, he argues that we should instead approach the role of a judge’s individual perspective in terms of intersubjectivity and validity. Drawing upon Kantian aesthetic theory as well as case law, legal theory, and constitutional theory, Edlin develops a new conceptual framework for the respective roles of the individual judge and of the judiciary as an institution, as well as the relationship between them, as integral parts of the broader legal and political community. Specifically, Edlin situates a judge’s subjective responses within a form of legal reasoning and reflective judgment that must be communicated to different audiences.
Edlin concludes that the individual values and perspectives of judges are indispensable both to their judgments in specific cases and to the independence of the courts. According to the common law tradition, judicial subjectivity is a virtue, not a vice.
In Constitutional Deliberation in Congress J. Mitchell Pickerill analyzes the impact of the Supreme Court’s constitutional decisions on Congressional debates and statutory language. Based on a thorough examination of how Congress responds to key Court rulings and strategizes in anticipation of them, Pickerill argues that judicial review—or the possibility of it—encourages Congressional attention to constitutional issues. Revealing critical aspects of how laws are made, revised, and refined within the separated system of government of the United States, he makes an important contribution to “constitutionalism outside the courts” debates.
Pickerill combines legislative histories, extensive empirical findings, and interviews with current and former members of Congress, congressional staff, and others. He examines data related to all of the federal legislation struck down by the Supreme Court from the beginning of the Warren Court in 1953 through the 1996–97 term of the Rehnquist Court. By looking at the legislative histories of Congressional acts that invoked the Commerce Clause and presented Tenth Amendment conflicts—such as the Child Labor Act (1916), the Civil Rights Act (1965), the Gun-Free School Zones Act (1990), and the Brady Bill (1994)—Pickerill illuminates how Congressional deliberation over newly proposed legislation is shaped by the possibility of judicial review. The Court’s invalidation of the Gun-Free School Zones Act in its 1995 ruling United States v. Lopez signaled an increased judicial activism regarding issues of federalism. Pickerill examines that case and compares congressional debate over constitutional issues in key pieces of legislation that preceded and followed it: the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1997. He shows that Congressional attention to federalism increased in the 1990s along with the Court’s greater scrutiny.
The Supreme Courts decisions concerning the first amendment are hotly debated, and the controversy shows no signs of abating as additional cases come before the court. Adding much-needed historical and philosophical background to the discussion, Richard J. Regan reconsiders some of the most important Supreme Court cases regarding the establishment clause and the free exercise of religion.
Since the early 1960s the Supreme Court and its congressional critics have been locked in a continuing dispute over the issues of school prayer, busing, and abortion. Although for years the Court’s congressional foes have introduced legislation designed to curb the powers of the federal courts in these areas, they have until now failed to enact such proposals. It is likely that these legislative efforts and the present confrontation with the Court will continue. Edward Keynes and Randall Miller argue that Congress lacks the constitutional power to legislate away the powers of the federal courts and to prevent individuals from seeking redress for presumed infringements of their constitutional rights in these areas. They demonstrate that neither the framers nor ratifiers of the Constitution intended the Congress to exercise plenary power over the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Throughout its history the Court has never conceded unlimited powers to Congress; and until the late 1950s Congress had not attempted to gerrymander the Court’s jurisdiction in response to specific decisions. But the authors contend this is just what the sponsors of recent legislative attacks on the Court intend, and they see such efforts as threatening the Court’s independence and authority as defined in the separation of powers clauses of the Constitution.
The Cult Of The Court
John Brigham Temple University Press, 1991 Library of Congress KF8742.B73 1987 | Dewey Decimal 347.7326
In recent years widespread attention has been focused on decisions handed down by the Supreme Court that grapple with passionate issues: integration, school prayer, abortion, affirmative action. The appointment of new justices is a highly charged political event although the Court is supposed to be "above" politics. Amidst the bicentennial celebration of the Constitution and almost daily reports of major confrontations awaiting the highest court’s judicial review, John Brigham presents a fresh and innovative examination of the U.S. Supreme Court as the final arbiter of constitutional interpretation.
Drawing on philosophy and anthropology, The Cult of the Court offers a social scientific investigation of an institution whose authority has come to be taken for granted. The author emphasizes that the Court is an institution and that its authority is founded less in the claim of legal expertise than in hierarchical finality—the assertion of political will, not of legal judgment. He shows how the Court has supplanted the Constitution as the authority in our political world and that what makes legal "sense" is affected by these factors of institutionalization, bureaucratization, and court-dominated constitutionalism.
This powerfully argued appraisal of judicial review may change the face of American law. Written for layman and scholar alike, the book addresses one of the most important issues facing Americans today: within what guidelines shall the Supreme Court apply the strictures of the Constitution to the complexities of modern life?
Until now legal experts have proposed two basic approaches to the Constitution. The first, “interpretivism,” maintains that we should stick as closely as possible to what is explicit in the document itself. The second, predominant in recent academic theorizing, argues that the courts should be guided by what they see as the fundamental values of American society. John Hart Ely demonstrates that both of these approaches are inherently incomplete and inadequate. Democracy and Distrust sets forth a new and persuasive basis for determining the role of the Supreme Court today.
Ely’s proposal is centered on the view that the Court should devote itself to assuring majority governance while protecting minority rights. “The Constitution,” he writes, “has proceeded from the sensible assumption that an effective majority will not unreasonably threaten its own rights, and has sought to assure that such a majority not systematically treat others less well than it treats itself. It has done so by structuring decision processes at all levels in an attempt to ensure, first, that everyone’s interests will be represented when decisions are made, and second, that the application of those decisions will not be manipulated so as to reintroduce in practice the sort of discrimination that is impermissible in theory.”
Thus, Ely’s emphasis is on the procedural side of due process, on the preservation of governmental structure rather than on the recognition of elusive social values. At the same time, his approach is free of interpretivism’s rigidity because it is fully responsive to the changing wishes of a popular majority. Consequently, his book will have a profound impact on legal opinion at all levels—from experts in constitutional law, to lawyers with general practices, to concerned citizens watching the bewildering changes in American law.
In Electing Judges, leading judicial politics scholar James L. Gibson responds tothe growing chorus of critics who fear that the politics of running for office undermine judicial independence and even the rule of law. While many people have opinions on the topic, few have supported them with actual empirical evidence. Gibson rectifies this situation, offering the most systematic and comprehensive study to date of the impact of campaigns on public perceptions of fairness, impartiality, and the legitimacy of elected state courts—and his findings are both counterintuitive and controversial.
Gibson finds that ordinary Americans do not conclude from campaign promises that judges are incapable of making impartial decisions. Instead, he shows, they understand the process of deciding cases to be an exercise in policy making, rather than of simply applying laws to individual cases—and consequently think it’s important for candidates to reveal where they stand on important issues. Negative advertising also turns out to have a limited effect on perceptions of judicial legitimacy, though the same cannot be said for widely hated campaign contributions.
Taking both the good and bad into consideration, Gibson argues persuasively that elections are ultimately beneficial in boosting the institutional legitimacy of courts, despite the slight negative effects of some campaign activities. Electing Judges will initiate a lively debate inside both the halls of justice and the academy.
It cannot be fair that wealthy people enjoy better legal outcomes. That is why Frederick Wilmot-Smith argues that justice requires equal access to legal resources. At his most radical, he urges us to rethink the centrality of the market to legal systems, so that those without means can secure justice and the rich cannot escape the law’s demands.
No sitting federal judge has ever written so trenchant a critique of the federal judiciary as Richard A. Posner does in this, his most confrontational book. He exposes the failures of the institution designed by the founders to check congressional and presidential power and resist its abuse, and offers practical prescriptions for reform.
This collection of fourteen essays written by young communication scholars at the University of Arkansas presents unique insights into how First Amendment issues have played out in the state. Rather than exploring the particular legal issues and the constitutional principles enunciated by the courts, First Amendment Studies tells the stories of actual people expressing challenged or unpopular points of view and reveals the ways that constitutional controversies arise from the actions of local officials and individual citizens.
Drawing on public documents as well as extensive interviews with participants, these essays demonstrate the dynamics of democratic dissent—on college campuses, in public schools, in churches, on the streets, in the forests and on the farms, and in legislative chambers and courtrooms.
Each essay was selected for the Richard S. Arnold Prize in First Amendment Studies, an endowed fund established in 1999 to encourage University of Arkansas graduate students in communication and the liberal arts to explore and examine questions about freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Continuous expansion of executive power is igniting national debate: Is the administration authorized to detain people without charges or access to counsel, due process, or a fair trial? Is torture acceptable as long as it doesn't happen on U.S. soil? In a new study of the use of plenary power - the doctrine under which U.S. courts have allowed the exercise of U.S. jurisdiction without concomitant constitutional protection - Natsu Taylor Saito puts contemporary policies in historical perspective, illustrating how such extensions of power have been upheld by courts from the 1880s to the present.
From Chinese Exclusion to Guantánamo Bay also provides a larger context for understanding problems resulting from the exercise of plenary power. Saito explains how the rights of individuals and groups deemed Other by virtue of race or national origin have been violated under both the Constitution and international law. The differing treatment of José Padilla and John Walker Lindh - both Americans accused of terrorism - provides an example of such disparate approaches. Such executive actions and their sanction by Congress and the judiciary, Saito argues, undermine not just individual rights but the very foundations of our national security - democracy and the rule of law.
From Chinese Exclusion to Guantánamo Bay will interest readers concerned with the historical background of constitutional protection in times of war and peace and will provide fascinating new material for scholars, teachers, and students of law, history, and ethnic studies
The United States Supreme Court exists to resolve constitutional disputes among lower courts and the other branches of government, allowing elected officials, citizens, and businesses to act without legal uncertainty. American law and society function more effectively when the Court resolves these ambiguous questions of Constitutional law. Since lower courts must defer to its reasoning, the Court should also promulgate clear and consistent legal doctrine, giving a reason for its judgment that a majority of justices support.
Yet a Court that prioritizes resolving many disputes will at times produce contradictory sets of opinions or fail to provide a rationale and legal precedent for its decision at all. In either case, it produces an unreasoned judgment. Conversely, a Court that prioritizes logically consistent doctrine will fail to resolve many underlying disputes in law and society. Inconsistency and Indecision in the United States Supreme Court demonstrates that over time, institutional changes, lobbied for by the justices, substantially reduced unreasoned judgments in the Court’s output, coinciding with a reduction in the Court’s caseload. Hence, the Supreme Court historically emphasized the first goal of dispute resolution, but evolved into a Court that prioritizes the second goal of logically consistent doctrine. As a result, the Court today fails to resolve more underlying questions in law and society in order to minimize criticism of its output from other elites. In so doing, the modern Court often fails to live up to its Constitutional obligation.
With experience as both a trial and appellate judge, Charles Benjamin Schudson knows the burdens on judges. With engaging candor, he takes readers behind the bench to probe judicial minds analyzing actual trials and sentencings—of abortion protesters, murderers, sex predators, white supremacists, and others. He takes us into chambers to hear judges forging appellate decisions about life and death, multimillion-dollar damages, and priceless civil rights. And, most significantly, he exposes the financial, political, personal, and professional pressures that threaten judicial ethics and independence.
As political attacks on judges increase, Schudson calls for reforms to protect judicial independence and for vigilance to ensure justice for all. Independence Corrupted is invaluable for students and scholars, lawyers and judges, and all citizens concerned about the future of America's courts.
In order to be confirmed to a lifetime appointment on the federal bench, all district and circuit court nominees must appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a confirmation hearing. Despite their relatively low profile, these lower court judges make up 99 percent of permanent federal judgeships and decide cases that relate to a wide variety of policy areas. To uncover why senators hold confirmation hearings for lower federal court nominees and the value of these proceedings more generally, the authors analyzed transcripts for all district and circuit court confirmation hearings between 1993 and 2012, the largest systematic analysis of lower court confirmation hearings to date. The book finds that the time-consuming practice of confirmation hearings for district and circuit court nominees provides an important venue for senators to advocate on behalf of their policy preferences and bolster their chances of being re-elected. The wide variation in lower court nominees’ experiences before the Judiciary Committee exists because senators pursue these goals in different ways, depending on the level of controversy surrounding a nominee. Ultimately, the findings inform a (re)assessment of the role hearings play in ensuring quality judges, providing advice and consent, and advancing the democratic values of transparency and accountability.
The judicial selection debate continues. Merit selection is used by a majority of states but remains the least well understood method for choosing judges. Proponents claim that it emphasizes qualifications and diversity over politics, but there is little empirical evidence regarding its performance.
In Judicial Merit Selection, Greg Goelzhauser amasses a wealth of data to examine merit selection’s institutional performance from an internal perspective. While his previous book, Choosing State Supreme Court Justices, compares outcomes across selection mechanisms, here he delves into what makes merit selection unique—its use of nominating commissions to winnow applicants prior to gubernatorial appointment.
Goelzhauser’s analyses include a rich case study from inside a nominating commission’s proceedings as it works to choose nominees; the use of public records to examine which applicants commissions choose and which nominees governors choose; evaluation of which attorneys apply for consideration and which judges apply for promotion; and examination of whether design differences across systems impact performance in the seating of qualified and diverse judges.
The results have critical public policy implications.
When the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, some saw the decision as a textbook example of neutral judicial decision making, noting that a Republican Chief Justice joined the Court’s Democratic appointees to uphold most provisions of the ACA. Others characterized the decision as the latest example of partisan justice and cited the actions of a bloc of the Court’s Republican appointees, who voted to strike down the statute in its entirety. Still others argued that the ACA’s fate ultimately hinged not on the Court but on the outcome of the 2012 election. These interpretations reflect larger stories about judicial politics that have emerged in polarized America. Are judges neutral legal umpires, unaccountable partisan activists, or political actors whose decisions conform to—rather than challenge—the democratic will?
Drawing on a sweeping survey of litigation on abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, and gun rights across the Clinton, Bush, and Obama eras, Thomas M. Keck argues that, while each of these stories captures part of the significance of judicial politics in polarized times, each is also misleading. Despite judges’ claims, actual legal decisions are not the politically neutral products of disembodied legal texts. But neither are judges “tyrants in robes,” undermining democratic values by imposing their own preferences. Just as often, judges and the public seem to be pushing in the same direction. As for the argument that the courts are powerless institutions, Keck shows that their decisions have profound political effects. And, while advocates on both the left and right engage constantly in litigation to achieve their ends, neither side has consistently won. Ultimately, Keck argues, judges respond not simply as umpires, activists, or political actors, but in light of distinctive judicial values and practices.
Congress and the president are not the only branches that deal with fiscal issues in times of war. In this innovative book, Nancy Staudt focuses on the role of federal courts in fiscal matters during warfare and high-cost national defense emergencies. There is, she argues, a judicial power of the purse that becomes evident upon examining the budgetary effects of judicial decision making. The book provides substantial evidence that judges are willing—maybe even eager—to redirect private monies into government hands when the country is in peril, but when the judges receive convincing cues that ongoing wartime activities undermine the nation’s interests, they are more likely to withhold funds from the government by deciding cases in favor of private individuals and entities who show up in court.
In stark contrast with conventional legal, political, and institutional thought that privileges factors associated with individual preferences, The Judicial Power of the Purse sheds light on environmental factors in judicial decision making and will be an excellent read for students of judicial behavior in political science and law.
In the first comprehensive accounting of the U.S. Supreme Court’s race-related jurisprudence, a distinguished historian and renowned civil rights lawyer scrutinize a legacy too often blighted by racial injustice.
The Supreme Court is usually seen as protector of our liberties: it ended segregation, was a guarantor of fair trials, and safeguarded free speech and the vote. But this narrative derives mostly from a short period, from the 1930s to the early 1970s. Before then, the Court spent a century largely ignoring or suppressing basic rights, while the fifty years since 1970 have witnessed a mostly accelerating retreat from racial justice.
From the Cherokee Trail of Tears to Brown v. Board of Education to the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act, historian Orville Vernon Burton and civil rights lawyer Armand Derfner shine a powerful light on the Court’s race record—a legacy at times uplifting, but more often distressing and sometimes disgraceful. For nearly a century, the Court ensured that the nineteenth-century Reconstruction amendments would not truly free and enfranchise African Americans. And the twenty-first century has seen a steady erosion of commitments to enforcing hard-won rights.
Justice Deferred is the first book that comprehensively charts the Court’s race jurisprudence. Addressing nearly two hundred cases involving America’s racial minorities, the authors probe the parties involved, the justices’ reasoning, and the impact of individual rulings. We learn of heroes such as Thurgood Marshall; villains, including Roger Taney; and enigmas like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Hugo Black. Much of the fragility of civil rights in America is due to the Supreme Court, but as this sweeping history also reminds us, the justices still have the power to make good on the country’s promise of equal rights for all.
Thoroughly grounded in the latest scholarly literature, theoretical sources, and experimental results, Legacy and Legitimacy substantially advances understanding of Black Americans’ attitudes toward the Supreme Court, the Court’s ability to influence Blacks’ opinions about the legitimacy of public institutions and policies, and the role of media in shaping Blacks’ judgments.
Drawing on legitimacy theory—which explains the acceptance of or tolerance for controversial policies—the authors begin by reexamining the significance of “diffuse support” in establishing legitimacy. They provide a useful overview of the literature on legitimacy and a concise history of the special relationship between Blacks and the Court. They investigate the influences of group attitudes and media “framing.” And they employ data from large-scale surveys to show that Blacks with greater levels of diffuse support for the Court are more likely to adopt positions consistent with Court rulings.
With its broad scope and inclusion of new experimental findings, Legacy and Legitimacy will interest students and scholars of judicial politics, racial politics, media and politics, black studies and public opinion.
When the U.S. Supreme Court announces a decision, reporters simplify and dramatize the complex legal issues by highlighting dissenting opinions and thus emphasizing conflict among the justices themselves. This often sensationalistic coverage fosters public controversy over specific rulings despite polls which show that Americans strongly believe in the Court’s legitimacy as an institution. In The Limits of Legitimacy, Michael A. Zilis illuminates this link between case law and public opinion. Drawing on a diverse array of sources and methods, he employs case studies of eminent domain decisions, analysis of media reporting, an experiment to test how volunteers respond to media messages, and finally the natural experiment of the controversy over the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.
Zilis finds that the media tends not to quote from majority opinions. However, the greater the division over a particular ruling among the justices themselves, the greater the likelihood that the media will criticize that ruling, characterize it as "activist," and employ inflammatory rhetoric. Hethen demonstrates that the media’s portrayal of a decision, as much as the substance of the decision itself, influences citizens’ reactions to and acceptance of it.
This meticulously constructed study and its persuasively argued conclusion advance the understanding of the media, judicial politics, political institutions, and political behavior.
In Making Sense of the Constitution: A Primer on the Supreme Court and Its Struggle to Apply Our Fundamental Law, Walter Frank tackles in a comprehensive but lively manner subjects rarely treated in one volume.
Aiming at both the general reader and students of political science, law, or history, Frank begins with a brief discussion of the nature of constitutional law and why the Court divides so closely on many issues. He then proceeds to an analysis of the Constitution and subsequent amendments, placing them in their historical context. Next, Frank shifts to the Supreme Court and its decisions, examining, among other things, doctrinal developments, the Court’s decision making processes, how justices interact with each other, and the debate over how the Constitution should be interpreted.
The work concludes with a close analysis of Court decisions in six major areas of continuing controversy, including abortion, affirmative action, and campaign finance.
Outstanding by the University Press Books for Public and Secondary Schools
Marshall and Taney was first published in 1939. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
The tides of social, political, and economic conflict will surge more violently about the Supreme Court in the future than they have in the past. Constantly larger numbers of the people are becoming aware of the tremendous power of the court as final interpreter of the constitution as a check upon Congress and the executive, and as guardian of individuals and minorities against governmental power. As a president of the American Bar Association has said, "Producers of potatoes in Maine, peanuts in Virginia, cotton in South Carolina, cane sugar in Louisiana, wheat in Kansas, corn in Iowa, peaches in Georgia, oranges in California, and thousands of small local enterprises everywhere are coming more and more to realize that their own bread and butter is seriously affected by the personnel of the Supreme Court.
Since public opinion rules in America, the place that the court will occupy in the scheme of things will be determined by the thought and emotions of the people. Thought and emotion alike will, in turn, depend largely upon popular conceptions of the part played by the court. Those conceptions cannot be accurate without a knowledge of the functioning of the individual judge.
We can better comprehend present and future judges if we understand why past ones acted officially as they did. This study contributes materially to that understanding.
In the light of history and the law, Ben W. Palmer has made a clear and thought provoking analysis of the judicial function, indicated revolutionary changes in the law. In the sharply etched portraits of the two chief justices who molded American constitutional law in its formative stages, he has shown how and why these two men affect lawyer and laymen today.
"Law," says historian-lawyer Palmer, "like religion, government, art, science, receives its meaning and value, not because of what it has been or is, but because of what it accomplishes as an instrument for the benefit of humanity."
"The judge's most essential and unavoidable function," thinks Dr. Palmer, "is the attempt to reconcile the contending principles of liberty and order. He stands between rule and discretion, the strict law and one tempered by time, circumstance, abstract justice, popular feeling—all crying out for relaxation of the rule. He must stand between Shylock, with his shining knife of legal right, and the victim who calls to his compassion."
Law is part of the process by which people construct their views of the world. In Material Law, distinguished scholar John Brigham focuses on the places where law and material life intersect, and how law creates and alters our social reality. Brigham looks at an eclectic group of bodies and things—from maps and territories and trends in courthouse architecture to a woman’s womb and a judge’s body—to make connections between the material and the legal.
Theoretically sophisticated, and consistently fascinating, Material Law integrates law and society, political science, and popular culture in a truly interdisciplinary fashion. Brigham examines how the meaning of law is influenced by politics, reviewing, for example, whether the authority of global law supersedes that of national law in the context of Anglo-American cultural colonialism. What emerges is a well-reasoned look at how the authority of law constitutes what we see as real in our lives.
Most analysts have deemed Richard Nixon’s challenge to the judicial liberalism of the Warren Supreme Court a failure—“a counterrevolution that wasn’t.” Nixon’s Court offers an alternative assessment. Kevin J. McMahon reveals a Nixon whose public rhetoric was more conservative than his administration’s actions and whose policy towards the Court was more subtle than previously recognized. Viewing Nixon’s judicial strategy as part political and part legal, McMahon argues that Nixon succeeded substantially on both counts.
Many of the issues dear to social conservatives, such as abortion and school prayer, were not nearly as important to Nixon. Consequently, his nominations for the Supreme Court were chosen primarily to advance his “law and order” and school desegregation agendas—agendas the Court eventually endorsed. But there were also political motivations to Nixon’s approach: he wanted his judicial policy to be conservative enough to attract white southerners and northern white ethnics disgruntled with the Democratic party but not so conservative as to drive away moderates in his own party. In essence, then, he used his criticisms of the Court to speak to members of his “Silent Majority” in hopes of disrupting the long-dominant New Deal Democratic coalition.
For McMahon, Nixon’s judicial strategy succeeded not only in shaping the course of constitutional law in the areas he most desired but also in laying the foundation of an electoral alliance that would dominate presidential politics for a generation.
The U.S. Supreme Court, with its controlled, highly institutionalized decision-making practices, provides an ideal environment for studying coalition formation. The process begins during the oral argument stage, which provides the justices with their first opportunity to hear one another's attitudes and concerns specific to a case. This information gathering allows them eventually to form a coalition.
In order to uncover the workings of this process, the authors analyze oral argument transcripts from every case decided from 1998 through 2007 as well as the complete collection of notes kept during oral arguments by Justice Lewis F. Powell and Justice Harry A. Blackmun. Both justices clearly monitored their fellow justices' participation in the discussion and used their observations to craft opinions their colleagues would be likely to support. This study represents a major step forward in the understanding of coalition formation, which is a crucial aspect of many areas of political debate and decision making.
The United States Supreme Court has numbered nine justices for the past 150 years. But that number is not fixed. With the Democrats controlling the House and Senate during the Biden presidency, they could add justices to the Supreme Court. But would court packing destroy the Court as an apolitical judicial institution? This is the crucial question Stephen Feldman addresses in his provocative book, Pack the Court! He uses a historical, analytical, and political argument to justify court-packing in general and Democratic court-packing more specifically.
Republicans and Democrats alike profess to worry that court-packing will destroy the legitimacy of the Supreme Court as a judicial institution by injecting politics into a purely legal adjudicative process. But as Feldman’s insightful book shows, law and politics are forever connected in judicial interpretation and decision making. Pack the Court! insists that court packing is not the threat to the Supreme Court’s institutional legitimacy that many fear. Given this, Feldman argues that Democrats should pack the Court while they have the opportunity. Doing so might even strengthen the American people’s faith in the Court.
The People's Courts
Jed Handelsman Shugerman Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress KF8776.S54 2012 | Dewey Decimal 347.7314
In the United States, almost 90 percent of state judges have to run in popular elections to remain on the bench. The People’s Courts traces the history of this peculiarly American institution and the ongoing quest for an independent judiciary—one that would ensure fairness for all before the law—from the colonial era to the present.
Like our divided nation, the Supreme Court is polarized. But does a split among Supreme Court justices—particularly when it occurs along ideological lines—hurt public perception and the Court’s ability to muster popular support for its rulings? Michael Salamone’s Perceptions of a Polarized Court offers the first comprehensive, empirical analysis of how divisiveness affects the legitimacy of the Court’s decisions.
Salamone looks specifically at the Roberts Court years—which are characterized by unprecedented ideological and partisan polarization among the justices—to evaluate the public consequences of divided Supreme Court rulings. He also analyzes both the media’s treatment of Supreme Court decisions and public opinion toward the Court’s rulings to show how public acceptance is (or is not) affected.
Salmone contends that judicial polarization has had an impact on the manner in which journalists report on the Supreme Court. However, contrary to expectation, Court dissent may help secure public support by tapping into core democratic values.
The Presidency in the Courts was first published in 1957. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Do the American courts restrain the President from committing illegal and unconstitutional acts? If so, how? These are the fundamental questions which are answered here through a systematic and comprehensive analysis of the opinions and decisions of the courts themselves. As Clinton Rossiter, author of "The American Presidency," points out, "Too many books on the Presidency deal with the powers of this great office, too few with the restraints that fix its place in our system of government. Students of the system will be grateful to Professor Schubert for this tough-minded, even-tempered, exhaustive study of a neglected aspect of the Presidency."
Professor Schubert analyzes hundreds of judicial cases, both federal and state, involving challenges to the legality of presidential action. The period covered is the entire lifetime of the republic and the material is arranged according to the President's major institutional roles, those of chief administrator, chief of state, commander in chief, and chief magistrate.
There are chapters on presidential management of public personnel and the public domain, his control of foreign relations and the tariff, his military powers, enemy aliens, the presidential seizure power and other emergency powers, legal sources of presidential power, due process in presidential lawmaking, and the scope of judicial review of presidential action. Both the theory and practice of presidential rule making and adjudication are examined in detail.
The book, the first of its kind, reveals how far from actuality are the generally held beliefs regarding the power of the courts versus the power of the Presidency. The significance of such a study is readily apparent in view of the fact that the fate not only of the United States but of Western civilization will hang in the balance of the President's exercise of his official powers during the next decade.
Juries have been at the center of some of the most emotionally charged moments of political life. At the same time, their capacity for legitimate decision making has been under scrutiny, because of events like the acquittal of George Zimmerman by a Florida jury for the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the decisions of several grand juries not to indict police officers for the killing of unarmed black men. Meanwhile, the overall use of juries has also declined in recent years, with most cases settled or resolved by plea bargain.
With Radical Enfranchisement in the Jury Room and Public Life, Sonali Chakravarti offers a full-throated defense of juries as a democratic institution. She argues that juries provide an important site for democratic action by citizens and that their use should be revived. The jury, Chakravarti argues, could be a forward-looking institution that nurtures the best democratic instincts of citizens, but this requires a change in civic education regarding the skills that should be cultivated in jurors before and through the process of a trial. Being a juror, perhaps counterintuitively, can guide citizens in how to be thoughtful rule-breakers by changing their relationship to their own perceptions and biases and by making options for collective action salient, but they must be better prepared and instructed along the way.
Compared to the vast machinery surrounding Congress and the president, the Supreme Court is a tiny institution that can resolve only a small fraction of the constitutional issues that arise in any given year. Andrew Coan shows that this simple yet frequently ignored fact is essential to understanding how the Supreme Court makes constitutional law.
Over the years, Reason in Law has established itself as the leading textbook for courses in legal reasoning, a critical aspect of the rule of law. This eighth edition brings the book’s analyses and examples fully up to date, adding new cases while retaining old ones whose lessons remain potent. It takes full account of the dramatic changes--and challenges--to legal reasoning that emerged from the Bush administration’s attempts to fight terrorism and also explores recent conflicts over same-sex marriage, gun control, hate crimes, and climate change. The result is an indispensable introduction to an issue that lies at the heart of the workings of the law.
In their timely and topical book, Reimagining Courts, Victor Flango and Thomas Clarke argue that courts are a victim of their own success. Disputes that once were resolved either informally in the family or within the community are now handled mainly by courts, which strains government agency resources. The authors offer provocative suggestions for a thorough overhaul of American state and local courts, one that better fits the needs of a twenty-first century legal system.
Reimagining Courts recommends a triage process based upon case characteristics, litigant goals, and resolution processes. Courts must fundamentally reorganize their business processes around the concept of the litigant as a customer. Each adjudication process that the authors propose requires a different case management process and different amounts of judicial, staff, and facility resources.
Reimagining Courts should spark much-needed debate. This book will be of significant interest to lawyers, judges, and professionals in the court system as well as to scholars in public administration and political science.
Specializing the Courts
Lawrence Baum University of Chicago Press, 2010 Library of Congress KF8775.B386 2011 | Dewey Decimal 347.7314
Most Americans think that judges should be, and are, generalists who decide a wide array of cases. Nonetheless, we now have specialized courts in many key policy areas. Specializing the Courts provides the first comprehensive analysis of this growing trend toward specialization in the federal and state court systems.
Lawrence Baum incisively explores the scope, causes, and consequences of judicial specialization in four areas that include most specialized courts: foreign policy and national security, criminal law, economic issues involving the government, and economic issues in the private sector. Baum examines the process by which court systems in the United States have become increasingly specialized and the motives that have led to the growth of specialization. He also considers the effects of judicial specialization on the work of the courts by demonstrating that under certain conditions, specialization can and does have fundamental effects on the policies that courts make. For this reason, the movement toward greater specialization constitutes a major change in the judiciary.
Two Supreme Court decisions, NCAA v. Board of Regents (1984) and NCAA v. Tarkanian (1988), shaped college sports by permitting the emergence of a commercial enterprise with high financial stakes, while failing to guarantee adequate procedural protections for persons charged with wrongdoing within that enterprise. Brian L. Porto examines the conditions that led to the cases, the reasoning behind the rulings, and the consequences of those rulings. He proposes a federal statute that would grant the NCAA a limited "educational exemption" from antitrust laws, enabling it to enhance academic opportunities for athletes and affording greater procedural protections to accused parties in NCAA disciplinary proceedings.
Critics claim that Supreme Court nominees have become more evasive in recent decades and that Senate confirmation hearings lack real substance. Conducting a line-by-line analysis of the confirmation hearing of every nominee since 1955—an original dataset of nearly 11,000 questions and answers from testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee—Dion Farganis and Justin Wedeking discover that nominees are far more forthcoming than generally assumed. Applying an original scoring system to assess each nominee’s testimony based on the same criteria, they show that some of the earliest nominees were actually less willing to answer questions than their contemporary counterparts. Factors such as changes in the political culture of Congress and the 1981 introduction of televised coverage of the hearings have created the impression that nominee candor is in decline. Further, senators’ votes are driven more by party and ideology than by a nominee’s responsiveness to their questions. Moreover, changes in the confirmation process intersect with increasing levels of party polarization as well as constituents’ more informed awareness and opinions of recent Supreme Court nominees.
In ruling after ruling, the three most important pre–Civil War justices—Marshall, Taney, and Story—upheld slavery. Paul Finkelman establishes an authoritative account of each justice’s proslavery position, the reasoning behind his opposition to black freedom, and the personal incentives that embedded racism ever deeper in American civic life.
Trial Courts as Organizations
Brian J Ostrom, Charles W Ostrom, Jr., Roger A Hanson and Matthew Kleiman Temple University Press, 2007 Library of Congress KF8719.T75 2007 | Dewey Decimal 347.731
Court administrators and judges have long acknowledged that culture plays an important role in the function of trial courts. Trial Courts as Organizations provides a comprehensive framework for understanding this organizational culture, along with a set of steps and tools to assess and measure the current and preferred culture.
The authors examine how courts operate, what characteristics they may display, and how they function as a unit to preserve judicial independence, strengthen organizational leadership, and influence court performance. They identify four different types of institutional cultures using a systematic analysis of alternative values on how work is done. Each culture is shown to have its own strengths and weaknesses in achieving values, such as timely case resolution, access to court services, and procedural justice. Accordingly, the authors find judges and administrators prefer a definite pattern of different cultures, called a "mosaic," to guide how their courts operate in the future.
Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of Harry S. Truman’s presidency is his judicial legacy, with even the finest of Truman biographies neglecting to consider the influence he had on the Supreme Court. Yet, as Rawn James lays out in engaging detail, president Harry Truman successfully molded the high court into a judicial body that appeared to actively support his administration’s political agenda. In rulings that sparked controversy in their own time, the Supreme Court repeatedly upheld Truman’s most contentious policies, including actions to restrict free speech, expand civil rights, and manage labor union unrest.
The Truman Court: Law and the Limits of Loyalty argues that the years between FDR’s death in 1945 and Chief Justice Earl Warren’s confirmation in 1953—the dawn of the Cold War—were, contrary to widespread belief, important years in Supreme Court history. Never before or since has a president so quickly and completely changed the ideological and temperamental composition of the Court. With remarkable swiftness and certainty, Truman constructed a Court on which he relied to lend constitutional credence to his political agenda.
The first scholarly treatment of the strategies employed by the New Christian Right in litigating cases regarding religion.
Trumping Religion provides a detailed analysis of the five major public-interest law firms that have litigated religion cases in the federal courts between 1980 and 2000. Allied with several highly vocal, evangelical ministries, such as those of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robinson, these legal organizations argue that religious expression is a form of protected speech and thereby gain a greater latitude of interpretation in the courts. The long-term agenda of the New Christian Right as illuminated by this study is to shape church-state jurisprudence in a way that permits free course for the Christian gospel.
Steven P. Brown presents his research and conclusions from a balanced viewpoint. In filling a distinct void in the literature, this book will be of considerable interest to political scientists, legal scholars, law schools and seminaries, and anyone concerned with the intersection of religion and judicial politics.
The Constitution’s vision of federalism in which local, state, and federal government compete to satisfy preferences of individuals has given way to a cooperative, cartelized federalism that enables interest groups to leverage power at every level for their own benefit. Greve traces this inversion and dispels much received wisdom along the way.