The Supreme Court in American Politics

New Institutionalist Interpretations

Edited by Howard Gillman and Cornell Clayton

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.

“This persuasive work is for anyone seeking to understand both the work of the Court and the nature of this ‘new institutionalism.’

—Library Journal

“An interesting and important collection of writings about the US Supreme Court.

See all reviews...

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.

About the Author

Howard Gillman is associate professor of political science at the University of Southern California and the author of The Constitution Besieged: The Rise and Demise of Lochner Era Police Powers Jurisprudence. Cornell Clayton is associate professor of political science at Washington State University and the author of The Politics of Justice: The Attorney General and the Making of Legal Policy and the editor of Government Lawyers: The Federal Legal Bureaucracy and Presidential Politics.