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.
For decades the Supreme Court has received more requests for review than it can possibly grant; it now rejects more than ninety percent of the petitions which fulfill jurisdictional requirements. Consequently, the process by which the justices select cases must be recognized as one of the most important aspects of the Court's work. But because it is hidden from public view and proceeds by secret ballot, the case-selection process has never been thoroughly analyzed.
This concise and accessible study provides an intimate view of the Court's case-selection process through an analysis of the docket books and other papers of Justice Harold H. Burton, who kept scrupulous records of the Court's work from 1945 to 1957. In her analysis of these invaluable records—the only records of case-selection votes made public since the advent of discretionary review in 1925—Provine provides two perspectives on the problematic issue of judicial motivation in case selection. The first perspective is an institutional one in which the Court is treated as the unit of analysis: the second is personal, in which differences among decision makers are the focus of analysis. Provine suggests that judicial role perceptions go far to explain both agreement and disagreement in case selection. She also considers the impact of the process upon litigants, since the system seems to favor petitioners with litigation expertise, especially the U.S. government. Yet, she claims, the secrecy of case selection fosters the popular misperception that any worthwhile case can be appealed "all the way to the Supreme Court." The Court thus maintains its image as a forum equally available to all litigants.
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.
How did the US judiciary become so powerful—powerful enough that state and federal judges once vied to decide a presidential election? What does this prominence mean for the law, constitutionalism, and liberal democracy? In The Cloaking of Power, Paul O. Carrese provides a provocative analysis of the intellectual sources of today’s powerful judiciary, arguing that Montesquieu, in his Spirit of the Laws, first articulated a new conception of the separation of powers and strong but subtle courts. Montesquieu instructed statesmen to “cloak power” by placing judges at the center of politics, while concealing them behind juries and subtle reforms. Tracing this conception through Blackstone, Hamilton, and Tocqueville, Carrese shows how it led to the prominence of judges, courts, and lawyers in America today. But he places the blame for contemporary judicial activism squarely at the feet of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and his jurisprudential revolution, which he believes to be the source of the now-prevalent view that judging is merely political.
To address this crisis, Carrese argues for a rediscovery of an independent judiciary—one that blends prudence and natural law with common law and that observes the moderate jurisprudence of Montesquieu and Blackstone, balancing abstract principles with realistic views of human nature and institutions. He also advocates for a return to the complex constitutionalism of the American founders and Tocqueville and for judges who understand their responsibility to elevate citizens above individualism, instructing them in law and right.
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.
The Constitution Besieged offers a compelling reinterpretation of one of the most notorious periods in American constitutional history. In the decades following the Civil War, federal and state judges struck down as unconstitutional a great deal of innovative social and economic legislation. Scholars have traditionally viewed this as the work of a conservative judiciary more interested in promoting laissez-faire economics than in interpreting the Constitution. Gillman challenges this scholarly orthodoxy by showing how these judges were in fact observing a long-standing constitutional prohibition against "class legislation." Originally published in cloth by Duke University Press, this book received the 1994 C. Herman Pritchett Award for the "Best Book in the Field of Law and Courts," awarded by the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association.
While many recent observers have accused American judges—especially Supreme Court justices—of being too driven by politics and ideology, others have argued that judges are justified in using their positions to advance personal views. Advocating a different approach—one that eschews ideology but still values personal perspective—H. Jefferson Powell makes a compelling case for the centrality of individual conscience in constitutional decision making.
Powell argues that almost every controversial decision has more than one constitutionally defensible resolution. In such cases, he goes on to contend, the language and ideals of the Constitution require judges to decide in good faith, exercising what Powell calls the constitutional virtues: candor, intellectual honesty, humility about the limits of constitutional adjudication, and willingness to admit that they do not have all the answers. Constitutional Conscience concludes that the need for these qualities in judges—as well as lawyers and citizens—is implicit in our constitutional practices, and that without them judicial review would forfeit both its own integrity and the credibility of the courts themselves.
In this provocative work, Martin Shapiro proposes an original model for the study of courts, one that emphasizes the different modes of decision making and the multiple political roles that characterize the functioning of courts in different political systems.
Because the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court tell us what the Constitution means, they can create constitutional change. For quite some time, general readers who have been interested in understanding those changes have not had a concise volume that explores major decisions in which those changes occur. Traditional casebooks used in law schools typically pay scant attention to the historical and political context in which cases are decided, as well as the motives of litigants, the involvement of interest groups, and the justices' concerns with policy outcomes, even though all these factors are critical to understanding the Court's decisions. Other books do address these concerns, but they almost always focus on a single policy issue rather than on a broader range of constitutional conflicts that populate the Court's docket.
In order to make a wide range of decisions more accessible, Gregg Ivers and Kevin T. McGuire commissioned twenty-two outstanding scholars to write essays on a selected series of Supreme Court cases. Chosen for their contemporary relevance, most of the cases addressed in this informative reader are from the last half-century, extending right up through Bush v. Gore and the 2003 Michigan affirmative action cases.
In each of these roughly two dozen cases, the authors address a number of questions that provide readers with a deeper understanding of the Court and its policies: How did the conflict originate? What role did organized interests have in the case? What did the litigants, personally and professionally, have at stake? What was the practical result of the Court's decision? Did the Court respond to lobbying or public opinion? These detailed historical and personal accounts in this all-new collection of essays offer engaging and illuminating perspectives on law and politics.
Gregg Ivers, Professor of Government at American University, is the author of American Constitutional Law: Power and Politics and To Build a Wall: American Jews and the Separation of Church and State (Virginia). Kevin T. McGuire, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is the author of Understanding the U.S. Supreme Court and The Supreme Court Bar: Legal Elites in the Washington Community (Virginia).
Judges and legal scholars talk past one another, if they have any conversation at all. Academics criticize judicial decisions in theoretical terms, which leads many judges to dismiss academic discourse as divorced from reality. Richard Posner reflects on the causes and consequences of this widening gap and what can be done to close it.
Sometimes the outcome of a lawsuit depends upon sensations known only to the person who experiences them, such as the buzzing sound heard by a plaintiff who suffers from tinnitus after an accident. Lawyers, litigants, and expert witnesses are now seeking to re-create these sensations in the courtroom, using digital technologies to simulate litigants’ subjective experiences and thus to help jurors know—not merely know about—what it is like to be inside a litigant’s mind. But with this novel type of evidence comes a host of questions: Can anyone really know what it is like to have another person’s sensory experiences? Why should courts allow jurors to see or hear these simulations? And how might this evidence alter the ways in which judges and jurors do justice?
In Experiencing Other Minds in the Courtroom, Neal Feigenson turns the courtroom into a forum for exploring the profound philosophical, psychological, and legal ramifications of our efforts to know what other people’s conscious experiences are truly like. Drawing on disciplines ranging from cognitive psychology to psychophysics to media studies, Feigenson harnesses real examples of digitally simulated subjective perceptions to explain how the epistemological value of this evidence is affected by who creates it, how it is made, and how it is presented. Through his close scrutiny of the different kinds of simulations and the different knowledge claims they make, Feigenson is able to suggest best practices for how we might responsibly incorporate such evidence into the courtroom.
The Federal Courts
Richard A. POSNER Harvard University Press, 1996 Library of Congress KF8700.P67 1996 | Dewey Decimal 347.732
The federal courts are the world's most powerful judiciary and a vital element of the American political system. In recent decades, these courts have experienced unprecedented growth in caseload and personnel. Many judges and lawyers believe that a "crisis in quantity" is imperiling the ability of the federal judiciary to perform its historic function of administering justice fairly and expeditiously. In a substantially revised edition of his widely acclaimed 1985 book The Federal Courts: Crisis and Reform, Chief Judge Richard A. Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit provides a comprehensive evaluation of the federal judiciary and a detailed program of judicial reform. Drawing on economic and political theory as well as on legal analysis and his own extensive judicial experience, Posner sketches the history of the federal courts, describes the contemporary institution, appraises the concerns that have been expressed with the courts' performance, and presents a variety of proposals for both short-term and fundamental reform. In contrast to some of the direr prophecies of observers of the federal courts, Posner emphasizes the success of these courts in adapting to steep caseload growth with minimum sacrifice in quality.
Although the book ranges over a variety of traditional topics in federal jurisdiction, the focus is steady on federal judicial administration conceived of as an interdisciplinary approach emphasizing system rather than doctrine, statistics rather than impressions, and caseload rather than cases. Like the earlier edition, this book promises to be a landmark in the empirical study of judicial administration.
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.
The 2016 presidential election campaign and its aftermath have underscored worrisome trends in the present state of our democracy: the extreme polarization of the electorate, the dismissal of people with opposing views, and the widespread acceptance and circulation of one-sided and factually erroneous information. Only a small proportion of those who are eligible actually vote, and a declining number of citizens actively participate in local community activities.
In Flunking Democracy, Michael A. Rebell makes the case that this is not a recent problem, but rather that for generations now, America’s schools have systematically failed to prepare students to be capable citizens. Rebell analyzes the causes of this failure, provides a detailed analysis of what we know about how to prepare students for productive citizenship, and considers examples of best practices. Rebell further argues that this civic decline is also a legal failure—a gross violation of both federal and state constitutions that can only be addressed by the courts. Flunking Democracy concludes with specific recommendations for how the courts can and should address this deficiency, and is essential reading for anyone interested in education, the law, and democratic society.
Ordinary Americans often bring family and neighborhood problems to court, seeking justice or revenge. The litigants in these local squabbles encounter law at its boundaries in the corridors of busy city courthouses, in the offices of court clerks, and in the church parlors used by mediation programs.
Getting Justice and Getting Even concerns the legal consciousness of working class Americans and their experiences with court and mediation. Following cases into and through the courts, Sally Engle Merry provides an ethnographic study of local law and of the people who use it in a New England city. The litigants, primarily white, native-born, and working class, go to court because as part of mainstream America they feel entitled to use its legal system. Although neither powerful nor highly educated, they expect the law's support when they face intolerable infringements of their rights, privacy, and safety. Yet as personal problems enter the legal system and move through mediation sessions, clerk's hearings, and prosecutor's conferences, the citizen plaintiff rapidly loses control of the process. Court officials and mediators interpret and characterize the meaning of these experiences, reframing and categorizing them in different discourses. Some plaintiffs yield to these interpretations, but others resist, struggling to assert their own version of the problem.
Ultimately, Merry exposes the paradox of legal entitlement. While going to court allows an individual to dominate domestic relationships, the litigant must increasingly yield control of the situation to the court that supplies that power.
Major approaches to law and public policy, ranging from law and economics to the fundamental rights approach to constitutional law, are based on the belief that the identification of the correct social goals or values is the key to describing or prescribing law and public policy outcomes. In this book, Neil Komesar argues that this emphasis on goal choice ignores an essential element—institutional choice. Indeed, as important as determining our social goals is deciding which institution is best equipped to implement them—the market, the political process, or the adjucative process.
Pointing out that all three institutions are massive, complex, and imperfect, Komesar develops a strategy for comparative institutional analysis that assesses variations in institutional ability. He then powerfully demonstrates the value of this analytical framework by using it to examine important contemporary issues ranging from tort reform to constitution-making.
Dan Simon Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress HV7419.S57 2012 | Dewey Decimal 364.019
Criminal justice is unavoidably human. Detectives, witnesses, suspects, and victims shape investigations; prosecutors, defense attorneys, jurors, and judges affect the outcome of adjudication. Simon shows how flawed investigations produce erroneous evidence and why well-meaning juries send innocent people to prison and set the guilty free.
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.
Inside Appellate Courts is a comprehensive study of how the organization of a court affects the decisions of appellate judges. Drawing on interviews with more than seventy federal appellate judges and law clerks, Jonathan M. Cohen challenges the assumption that increasing caseloads and bureaucratization have impinged on judges' abilities to bestow justice. By viewing the courts of appeals as large-scale organizations, Inside Appellate Courts shows how courts have walked the tightrope between justice and efficiency to increase the number of cases they decide without sacrificing their ability to dispense a high level of justice.
Cohen theorizes that, like large corporations, the courts must overcome the critical tension between the autonomy of the judges and their interdependence and coordination. However, unlike corporations, courts lack a central office to coordinate the balance between independence and interdependence. Cohen investigates how courts have dealt with this tension by examining topics such as the role of law clerks, methods of communication between judges, the effect of a court's size and geographic location, the role of argumentation, the use of visiting judges, the significance of the increasing use of unpublished decisions, and the nature and role of court culture.
Inside Appellate Courts offers the first comprehensive organizational study of the appellate judicial process. It will be of interest to the social scientist studying organizations, the sociology of law, and comparative dispute resolution and have a wide appeal to the legal audience, especially practicing lawyers, legal scholars, and judges.
Jonathan M. Cohen is Attorney at Gilbert, Heintz, and Randolph LLP.
Three questions concerning modern legal thought provide the framework for It’s All in the Game: What should judges do? What do judges do? What can judges do? Contrasting his own answers to traditional responses and moving playfully between debates of high theory, daily practices of appellate judges, and his own enlightening analyses of significant court rulings, Allan C. Hutchinson examines what it means to treat adjudication as an engaged game of rhetorical justification. His resulting argument enables the reader to grasp more fully the practical operation, political determinants, and the transformative possibilities of law and adjudication. Taking on leading contemporary theories to explore the claim that “law is politics,” Hutchinson delineates a route toward professional, relevant, and responsible—if radical—judicial practices. After discussing the difference between foundationalist, antifoundationalist, and nonfoundationalist legal critiques, he offers a focused, unequivocal, and positive account of the advantages of operating within a nonfoundationalist framework. Although such an approach centralizes the role of rhetoric in law, Hutchinson claims that this does not necessitate a turn away from politics or, more particularly, from a progressive politics. Driving home the political and jurisprudential impact of his critique and of his account of nonfoundationalist alternatives, he urges judges and jurists to engage in law’s language game of politics. This engaging book will interest linguistic philosophers, legal theorists, law students, attorneys, judges, and jurists of all stripes.
In this remarkable inquiry into the bases of social theory, Gordon L. Clark argues that the heterogeneous nature of our society, with its pluralism of values, causes the rules of social conduct to be constantly made and remade. Examining the role of the courts in structuring and achieving social discourse, he contends that legal doctrine is no different from other social theories: judicial interpretations are constructed out of specific circumstances and conflicting values, not deduced from neutral and logical principles. There is, he asserts, no final arbiter somehow unaffected by our controversies and schisms.
As concrete examples, Clark analyzes four court disputes in depth, showing that the concept of local autonomy has very different meanings and implications in each of them. These cases—Boston's defense of resident-preference hiring policies, conflict over urban land-use zoning in Toronto, a Chicago's suburb's fight against a sewage treatment plant, and the evolution of the City of Denver's power since 1900—demonstrate that legal reasoning is not impervious to other kinds of reasoning, and the solutions provided by the courts are not unique. To ground his explorations, Clark investigates both liberalism and structuralism, showing that both are inadequate bases for determining social policy. He mounts provocative critiques of the works of de Tocqueville, Nozick, Tiebout, and Posner on the one hand and Castells and Poulantzas on the other.
This ambitious and important work will command the interest of geographers, political scientists, economists, sociologists, and legal scholars.
Must judges be trained as lawyers in order to be effective in office, or can nonlawyers serve equally well? This question has long provoked controversy among lawyers, judges, legislators, and the public. In her empirical study of the place of the nonlawyer judge in the American legal system, Doris Marie Provine concludes that, despite the opposition of the legal profession to nonlawyer judges, they are as competent as lawyers in carrying out judicial duties in courts of limited jurisdiction.
Provine presents a persuasive argument that the case against nonlawyer judges has been weighted in favor of the professional interests of lawyers, not public concerns. Her examination reveals as much about the presuppositions of legal professionals as it does about the competency of nonlawyer judges to old judicial office. To substantiate her claims, Provine has conducted the most comprehensive survey of nonlawyer and lawyer judges yet undertaken, augmenting this material with court observations and extensive interviews of judges. She integrates the results of this survey into the historical context of the lay versus lawyer judge debate, showing how the legally trained judge came to predominate in the American judicial system and analyzing in detail the campaign both in and out of the courts to make legal training a prerequisite for being a judge. Ultimately, Provine suggests, Americans are too committed to the significance of credentials and to the legal profession's vision of the judicial process to respond very favorably to nonlawyer judges, however well they might perform.
Judging Credentials will force lawyers, judges, scholars, and the public to reconsider the role nonlawyer judges play in the American judicial system. Provine's provocative views and exhaustive research adds new dimensions to our understanding of the ethics of professionalism and its consequences.
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.
Judges are society’s elders and experts, our masters and mediators. We depend on them to dispense justice with integrity, deliberation, and efficiency. Yet judges, as Alexander Hamilton famously noted, lack the power of the purse or the sword. They must rely almost entirely on their reputations to secure compliance with their decisions, obtain resources, and maintain their political influence.
In Judicial Reputation, Nuno Garoupa and Tom Ginsburg explain how reputation is not only an essential quality of the judiciary as a whole, but also of individual judges. Perceptions of judicial systems around the world range from widespread admiration to utter contempt, and as judges participate within these institutions some earn respect, while others are scorned. Judicial Reputation explores how judges respond to the reputational incentives provided by the different audiences they interact with—lawyers, politicians, the media, and the public itself—and how institutional structures mediate these interactions. The judicial structure is best understood not through the lens of legal culture or tradition, but through the economics of information and reputation. Transcending those conventional lenses, Garoupa and Ginsburg employ their long-standing research on the latter to examine the fascinating effects that governmental interactions, multicourt systems, extrajudicial work, and the international rule-of-law movement have had on the reputations of judges in this era.
The Language of Judges
Lawrence M. Solan University of Chicago Press, 1993 Library of Congress KF8775.S65 1993 | Dewey Decimal 349.73014
Since many legal disputes are battles over the meaning of a statute, contract, testimony, or the Constitution, judges must interpret language in order to decide why one proposed meaning overrides another. And in making their decisions about meaning appear authoritative and fair, judges often write about the nature of linguistic interpretation. In the first book to examine the linguistic analysis of law, Lawrence M. Solan shows that judges sometimes inaccurately portray the way we use language, creating inconsistencies in their decisions and threatening the fairness of the judicial system.
Solan uses a wealth of examples to illustrate the way linguistics enters the process of judicial decision making: a death penalty case that the Supreme Court decided by analyzing the use of adjectives in a jury instruction; criminal cases whose outcomes depend on the Supreme Court's analysis of the relationship between adverbs and prepositional phrases; and cases focused on the meaning of certain words in the Constitution. Solan finds that judges often describe our use of language poorly because there is no clear relationship between the principles of linguistics and the jurisprudential goals that the judge wishes to promote.
A major contribution to the growing interdisciplinary scholarship on law and its social and cultural context, Solan's lucid, engaging book is equally accessible to linguists, lawyers, philosophers, anthropologists, literary theorists, and political scientists.
Law and Judicial Duty
Philip HAMBURGER Harvard University Press, 2008 Library of Congress KF4575.H36 2008 | Dewey Decimal 347.7312
Philip Hamburger’s Law and Judicial Duty traces the early history of what is today called "judicial review." The book sheds new light on a host of misunderstood problems, including intent, the status of foreign and international law, the cases and controversies requirement, and the authority of judicial precedent. The book is essential reading for anyone concerned about the proper role of the judiciary.
Why do self-proclaimed constitutional “originalists” so regularly reach decisions with a politically conservative valence? Do “living constitutionalists” claim a license to reach whatever results they prefer, without regard to the Constitution’s language and history? In confronting these questions, Richard H. Fallon reframes and ultimately transcends familiar debates about constitutional law, constitutional theory, and judicial legitimacy.
Drawing from ideas in legal scholarship, philosophy, and political science, Fallon presents a theory of judicial legitimacy based on an ideal of good faith in constitutional argumentation. Good faith demands that the Justices base their decisions only on legal arguments that they genuinely believe to be valid and are prepared to apply to similar future cases. Originalists are correct about this much. But good faith does not forbid the Justices to refine and adjust their interpretive theories in response to the novel challenges that new cases present. Fallon argues that theories of constitutional interpretation should be works in progress, not rigid formulas laid down in advance of the unforeseeable challenges that life and experience generate.
Law and Legitimacy in the Supreme Court offers theories of constitutional law and judicial legitimacy that accept many tenets of legal realism but reject its corrosive cynicism. Fallon’s account both illuminates current practice and prescribes urgently needed responses to a legitimacy crisis in which the Supreme Court is increasingly enmeshed.
The role of the U.S. Supreme Court in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election raised questions in the minds of many Americans about the relationships between judges and political influence; the following years saw equally heated debates over the appropriate role of political ideology in selecting federal judges. Legal scholars have always debated these questions—asking, in effect, how much judicial systems operate on merit and principle and how much they are shaped by politics.
The Japanese Constitution, like many others, requires that all judges be "independent in the exercise of their conscience and bound only by this Constitution and its laws." Consistent with this requirement, Japanese courts have long enjoyed a reputation for vigilant independence—an idea challenged only occasionally, and most often anecdotally. But in this book, J. Mark Ramseyer and Eric B. Rasmusen use the latest statistical techniques to examine whether that reputation always holds up to scrutiny—whether, and to what extent, the careers of lower court judges can be manipulated to political advantage.
On the basis of careful econometric analysis of career data for hundreds of judges, Ramseyer and Rasmusen find that Japanese politics do influence judicial careers, discreetly and indirectly: judges who decide politically charged cases in ways favored by the ruling party enjoy better careers after their decisions than might otherwise be expected, while dissenting judges are more likely to find their careers hampered by assignments to less desirable positions.
Ramseyer and Rasmusen's sophisticated yet accessible analysis has much to offer anyone interested in either judicial independence or the application of econometric techniques in the social sciences.
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.
In The Pioneers of Judicial Behavior, prominent political scientists critically examine the contributions to the field of public law of the pioneering scholars of judicial behavior: C. Hermann Pritchett, Glendon Schubert, S. Sidney Ulmer, Harold J. Spaeth, Joseph Tanenhaus, Beverly Blair Cook, Walter F. Murphy, J. Woodward Howard, David J. Danelski, David Rohde, Edward S. Corwin, Alpheus Thomas Mason, Robert G. McCloskey, Robert A. Dahl, and Martin Shapiro.
Unlike past studies that have traced the emergence and growth of the field of judicial studies, The Pioneers of Judicial Behavior accounts for the emergence and exploration of three current theoretical approaches to the study of judicial behavior--attitudinal, strategic, and historical-institutionalist--and shows how the research of these foundational scholars has contributed to contemporary debates about how to conceptualize judges as policy makers. Chapters utilize correspondence of and interviews with some early scholars, and provide a format to connect the concerns and controversies of the first political scientists of law and courts to contemporary challenges and methodological debates among today's judicial scholars. The volume's purpose in looking back is to look forward: to contribute to an ecumenical research agenda on judicial decision making, and, ultimately, to the generation of a unified, general theory of judicial behavior.
The Pioneers of Judicial Behavior will be of interest to graduate students in the law and courts field, political scientists interested in the philosophy of social science and the history of the discipline, legal practitioners and researchers, and political commentators interested in academic theorizing about public policy making.
Nancy L. Maveety is Associate Professor of Political Science, Tulane University.
Focusing on a class action lawsuit against the Illinois child welfare system (B. H. v. Johnson), Pitiful Plaintiffs examines the role of the federal courts in the child welfare policymaking process and the extent to which litigation can achieve the goal of reforming child welfare systems.
Beginning in the 1970s, children’s advocates asked the federal courts to intervene in the child welfare policymaking process. Their weapons were, for the most part, class action suits that sought widespread reform of child welfare systems. This book is about the tens of thousands of abused and neglected children in the United States who enlisted the help of the federal courts to compel state and local governments to fulfill their obligations to them. Based on a variety of sources, the core of the research consists of in-depth, open-ended interviews with individuals involved in the Illinois child welfare system, particularly those engaged in the litigation process, including attorneys, public officials, members of children’s advocacy groups, and federal court judges. The interviews were supplemented with information from legal documents, government reports and publications, national and local news reports, and scholarly writings. Despite the proliferation of child welfare lawsuits and the increasingly important role of the federal judiciary in child welfare policymaking, structural reform litigation against child welfare systems has received scant scholarly attention from a political science or public policy perspective. Mezey’s comprehensive study will be of interest to political scientists and public policy analysts, as well as anyone involved in social justice and child welfare.
From local trial courts to the United States Supreme Court, judges' decisions affect the fates of individual litigants and the fate of the nation as a whole. Scholars have long discussed and debated explanations of judicial behavior. This book examines the major issues in the debates over how best to understand judicial behavior and assesses what we actually know about how judges decide cases. It concludes that we are far from understanding why judges choose the positions they take in court.
Lawrence Baum considers three issues in examining judicial behavior. First, the author considers the balance between the judges' interest in the outcome of particular cases and their interest in other goals such as personal popularity and lighter workloads. Second, Baum considers the relative importance of good law and good policy as bases for judges' choices. Finally Baum looks at the extent to which judges act strategically, choosing their own positions after taking into account the positions that their fellow judges and other policy makers might adopt. Baum argues that the evidence on each of these issues is inconclusive and that there remains considerable room for debate about the sources of judges' decisions. Baum concludes that this lack of resolution is not the result of weaknesses in the scholarship but from the difficulty in explaining human behavior. He makes a plea for diversity in research.
This book will be of interest to political scientists and scholars in law and courts as well as attorneys who are interested in understanding judges as decision makers and who want to understand what we can learn from scholarly research about judicial behavior.
Lawrence Baum is Professor of Political Science, Ohio State University.
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.
Reflections on Judging
Richard A. Posner Harvard University Press, 2013 Library of Congress KF9050.P55 2013 | Dewey Decimal 347.7324092
For Richard Posner, legal formalism and formalist judges--notably Antonin Scalia--present the main obstacles to coping with the dizzying pace of technological advance. Posner calls for legal realism--gathering facts, considering context, and reaching a sensible conclusion that inflicts little collateral damage on other areas of the law.
Despite the tepid reception of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke in 1978, the Supreme Court has thrice affirmed its holding: universities can use race as an admissions factor to achieve the goal of a diverse student body. This book examines the process of rhetorical invention followed by Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., his colleagues, and other interlocutors as they sifted through arguments surrounding affirmative action policies to settle on diversity as affirmative action’s best constitutional justification. Here M. Kelly Carr explores the goals, constraints, and argumentative tools of the various parties as they utilized the linguistic resources available to them, including arguments about race, merit, and the role of the public university in civic life. Using public address texts, legal briefs, memoranda, and draft opinions, Carr looks at how public arguments informed the amicus briefs, chambers memos, and legal principles before concluding that Powell’s pragmatic decision making fused the principle of individualism with an appreciation of multiculturalism to accommodate his colleagues’ differing opinions. She argues that Bakke is thus a legal and rhetorical milestone that helped to shift the justificatory grounds of race-conscious policy away from a recognition of historical discrimination and its call for reparative equality, and toward an appreciation of racial diversity.
Saying What the Law Is
Charles Fried Harvard University Press, 2004 Library of Congress KF4550.F728 2004 | Dewey Decimal 342.73
In a few thousand words the Constitution sets up the government of the United States and proclaims the basic human and political rights of its people. From the interpretation and elaboration of those words in over 500 volumes of Supreme Court cases comes the constitutional law that structures our government and defines our individual relationship to that government. This book fills the need for an account of that law free from legal jargon and clear enough to inform the educated layperson, yet which does not condescend or slight critical nuance, so that its judgments and analyses will engage students, practitioners, judges, and scholars.
Taking the reader up to and through such controversial recent Supreme Court decisions as the Texas sodomy case and the University of Michigan affirmative action case, Charles Fried sets out to make sense of the main topics of constitutional law: the nature of doctrine, federalism, separation of powers, freedom of expression, religion, liberty, and equality.
Fried draws on his knowledge as a teacher and scholar, and on his unique experience as a practitioner before the Supreme Court, a former Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, and Solicitor General of the United States to offer an evenhanded account not only of the substance of constitutional law, but of its texture and underlying themes. His book firmly draws the reader into the heart of today's constitutional battles. He understands what moves today's Court and that understanding illuminates his analyses.
Table of Contents:
1. Doctrine 2. Federalism 3. Separation of Powers 4. Speech 5. Religion 6. Liberty and Property 7. Equality
Notes Table of Cases Index
Reviews of this book: One-time prosecutor, judge, and now Constitutional theorist Fried creates a framework for understanding the role of Constitutional doctrine in dictating and guiding the intricate relationships between government and the political and social structures it purports to control. Fried addresses one of the toughest challenges facing the student of federalism: aside from the powers specifically granted by the Constitution to Congress and the President, what becomes of the rest of the balance of powers that a government might enjoy?...Fried strongly advances the theory that the Constitution was the creation of the states, which transferred some part of their sovereignty to the new national government, rather than an original creation of the sovereign people of the nation as a whole. --Philip Y. Blue, Library Journal
Reviews of this book: Saying What the Law Is offers moderation in almost every sense. Fried dispassionately discusses recent controversies in constitutional law while also spelling out a theory about how the Supreme Court should go about its work. By giving paramount importance to modest and principled judicial decision making, Fried's theory simply continues a distinguished tradition of searching for a principled approach to constitutional law...Saying What the Law Is is important not only for the renewed case it makes for the process tradition, but for its accessibility to the educated layperson. --Andrew J. Morris, Legal Times
Reviews of this book: Saying What the Law Is is an excellent primer on constitutional adjudication...The book is a nuanced presentation of law not just as a set of concepts, but also as a discipline practiced by courts that must translate concepts into doctrine, and apply that doctrine to decide cases. Professor Fried's goal is not simply to lay out the current black letter law, though he does this very well. Rather, it is to convey an understanding of the doctrine...The result is a sophisticated review of the Court's jurisprudence, coupled with insightful proposals for restoring principle to the law in areas where it falls short...In this time of polarizing debate, Fried's book represents a mature reflection on principles, rather than just another salvo in partisan wars. As such, it is a valuable and refreshing contribution. --Kevin J. Doyle, FindLaw
Charles Fried has been, by turns, advocate, judge and scholar in the field of constitutional law. He has now given us a wonderful book on the subject, a work of sparkling intelligence and moral maturity. Fried believes in the possibility of constitutional doctrine, in the careful and reasoned elaboration of constitutional principles over time. For those who think that the work of the Supreme Court is just politics in disguise, Fried's defense of the rule of reason in doctrinal development is a compelling riposte. Never giving up on reason's ambition while remaining clear-eyed about its limits, Fried offers a guide and model for those who hope to understand the work of the Supreme Court as it strives patiently to say what the law is. --Anthony T. Kronman, Dean, Yale Law School
Charles Fried is the ideal guide for the nonspecialist who wants to understand the decisions of the Supreme Court. The book's brilliant exposition ranges from the fundamental principles of constitutional law to the Court's most recent landmark cases. Fried's experience as a professor, a judge, and a frequent practitioner before the Supreme Court makes this an authoritative as well as a very personal volume. It should be read by anyone who wants a deep understanding of how the Supreme Court influences the law and our daily lives. --Martin Feldstein, Professor of Economics, Harvard University and President, National Bureau of Economic Research
To read this book is to enter into a fascinating conversation about the most important constitutional puzzles with a legal thinker of uncommon wisdom, unique experience, and a most unusual immersion in the real world. In Saying What the Law Is, Charles Fried draws brilliantly and elegantly on the unparalleled mix of perspectives that his remarkable life in the law has made possible--a mix that gives rich texture and broadly illuminating power to his understanding both of the basic architecture and of the fascinating oddities of the legal rules and principles through which our Constitution's generalities assume concrete meaning. I find myself no less enlightened by Fried's prose when he is pursuing a line of thought with which I disagree than when he is echoing my own views perfectly. At the same time, he portrays and illustrates the sweeping landscape of constitutional law in a way that should prove accessible as well as intriguing to intelligent non-specialists. This is a book that no one who cares about the United States Constitution should fail to read. --Laurence H. Tribe, Tyler Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School
"How to inform the judicial mind," Justice Frankfurter remarked during the school desegregation cases, "is one of the most complicated problems." Social research is a potential source of such information. Indeed, in the 1960s and 1970s, with activist courts at the forefront of social reform, the field of law and social science came of age. But for all the recent activity and scholarship in this area, few books have attempted to create an intellectual framework, a systematic introduction to applied social-legal research. Social Research in the Judicial Process addresses this need for a broader picture. Designed for use by both law students and social science students, it constructs a conceptual bridge between social research (the realm of social facts) and judicial decision making (the realm of social values). Its unique casebook format weaves together judicial opinions, empirical studies, and original text. It is a process-oriented book that teaches skills and perspectives, cultivating an informed sensitivity to the use and misuse of psychology, social psychology, and sociology in apellate and trial adjudication. Among the social-legal topics explored are school desegregation, capital punishment, jury impartiality, and eyewitness identification. This casebook is remarkable for its scope, its accessibility, and the intelligence of its conceptual integration. It provides the kind of interdisciplinary teaching framework that should eventually help lawyers to make knowledgeable use of social research, and social scientists to conduct useful research within a legally sophisticated context.
What influences decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court? For decades social scientists focused on the ideology of individual justices. Supreme Court Decision Making moves beyond this focus by exploring how justices are influenced by the distinctive features of courts as institutions and their place in the political system.
Drawing on interpretive-historical institutionalism as well as rational choice theory, a group of leading scholars consider such factors as the influence of jurisprudence, the unique characteristics of supreme courts, the dynamics of coalition building, and the effects of social movements. The volume's distinguished contributors and broad range make it essential reading for those interested either in the Supreme Court or the nature of institutional politics.
Original essays contributed by Lawrence Baum, Paul Brace, Elizabeth Bussiere, Cornell Clayton, Sue Davis, Charles Epp, Lee Epstein, Howard Gillman, Melinda Gann Hall, Ronald Kahn, Jack Knight, Forrest Maltzman, David O'Brien, Jeffrey Segal, Charles Sheldon, James Spriggs II, and Paul Wahlbeck.
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.
The legal community traditionally has drawn unsystematically and at will on the findings of social science, sometimes with unfortunate results. The authors of this study explore this issue by focusing on the way the United States Supreme Court uses social science data in reaching its decisions. Concentrating on decisions involving abortion, sex discrimination, and sexual harassment, they show that the use of such data has increased over the last twenty years, but that the data's use by the court appears to hinge more on the judges' liberal, conservative, or long-held positions and the types of cases involved than on the objectivity or validity of the data.
By offering insights into how data are used by the Supreme Court, the authors hope to show social scientists how to make their research more suitable for courtroom use and to show the legal community how such data can be used more effectively. The volume includes an overview of the kinds of research used, a list of cases in which such research was used, and a discussion of justices and how they voted on cases in which such data were used from 1972 to 1992.
Courts have often treated the two religion clauses of the First Amendment as contradictory, with the free exercise clause used to protect religious practices and the establishment clause employed to limit the public expression of religious beliefs. Wrestling with God not only reconciles the relationship between the two clauses but also distinguishes them in terms of their respective purposes.