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The Supreme Court in American Politics: New Institutionalist Interpretations / Edition 1

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For decades political scientists studying the Court have adopted behavioral approaches and focused on the relatively narrow question of how the justices' policy preferences influence their voting behavior. This emphasis has illuminated important aspects of Supreme Court politics, but it has also left unaddressed many other important questions about this unique and fascinating institution.

Drawing on "the new institutionalism" in the social sciences, the distinguished contributors to this volume attempt to fill this gap by exploring a variety of topics, including the Court's institutional development and its relationship to broader political contexts such as party regimes, electoral systems, social movements, social change, legal precedents, political identities, and historically evolving economic structures.

The book's initial chapters examine the nature of the Court's distinctive norms as well as the development of its institutional powers and practice. A second section relates the development of Supreme Court politics to the historical development of other political institutions and social movements. Concluding chapters explore how its decision making in particular areas of law or periods of time is influenced by—and influences—its socio-political milieu.

These contributions offer provocative insights regarding the Court's role in maintaining or disrupting political and economic structures, as well as social structures and identities tied to ideology, class, race, gender, and sexual orientation. The Supreme Court in American Politics shows how we can develop an enriched understanding of this institution, and open up exciting new areas of research by placing it in the broader context of politics in the United States.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
According to professors Gillman and Clayton, pivotal aspects of the work of the United States Supreme Court beyond simply the voting records of the justices deserve close scrutiny. They acknowledge that this premise is not new but point out that their work is an intellectual descendant of the reaction earlier in this century to the mechanical jurisprudence school of thought--hence, their claim of offering "new" institutionalist interpretations. All of the book's contributors argue effectively that the work of the court can be properly understood only when placed in broader political, social, cultural, and economic context. But they deny that the justices are simply behaving like other political actors when they hand down decisions influenced by this broader contextual reality. This persuasive work is for anyone seeking to understand both the work of the court and the nature of this "new institutionalism." Recommended especially for academic libraries and advanced courses in public law.--Stephen K. Shaw, Northwest Nazarene Coll., Nampa, ID Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Draws on the "new institutionalism" in the social sciences, exploring the Supreme Court's institutional development and is relationship to broader political contexts such as party regimes, electoral systems, and social movements. Initial chapters examine the nature of the Court's distinctive norms as well as the development of its powers and practice. Later chapters relate the development of Court politics to the historical development of other political institutions and social movements. Concluding chapters explore how its decision making is influenced by, and influences, its sociopolitical milieu. Gillman is associate professor of political science at the University of Southern California. Clayton is associate professor of political science at Washington State University. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700609765
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 9/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.09 (w) x 9.16 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Table of Contents


I. Introduction, Cornell Clayton and Howard Gillman

Part I: Legal Norms and the Historical Development of Supreme Court Politics

2. The Constitution of the Supreme Court, John Brigham

3. The Problematic Establishment of Judicial Review, Mark A. Graber

4. Institutional Norms and the Historical Development of Supreme Court Politics: Changing "Social Facts" and Doctrinal Development, Ronald Kahn

Part II: The Supreme Court in Political Context

5. How the Supreme Court Matters in American Politics: New Institutionalist Perspectives, Michael McCann

6. The Supreme Court and Partisan Change: Contravening, Provoking, and Diffusing Partisan Conflict, John B. Gates

7. The Supreme Court Bar and Institutional Relationships, Kevin T. McGuire

8. Bill Clinton's Excellent Adventure: Political Development and the Modern Confirmation Process, Mark Silverstein

Part III: Supreme Court Agenda Setting and Decision Making in Context

9. Law, Politics, and the Rehnquist Court: Structural Influences on Supreme Court Decision Making, Cornell Clayton

10. Supreme Court Agenda Setting in Gender Equity Cases, 1970-1994, Leslie Friedman

11. Queer New Institutionalism: Notes on the Naked Power Organ in Mainstream Constitutional Theory and Law, Susan Burgess

12. Democratic Theory and Race-Conscious Redistricting: The Supreme Court Constructs the American Voter, Keith J. Bybee

13. Reconnecting the Modern Supreme Court to the Historical Evolution of American Capitalism, Howard Gillman


List of Cases Cited

List of Contributors


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