The Politics of the US Supreme Court


The purpose of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the U.S. Supreme Court's role in American politics. Unlike a constitutional law class, this course does not use the legal doctrine in Court opinions as its raw material. Rather, it relies on the theoretical arguments and empirical analyses in research by Political Scientists to answer questions such as the following: (1) Under what circumstances does the Court overrule precedent?; (2) Do elected politicians or the public influence how Supreme Court Justices decide cases?; (3) Under what conditions does the Court influence American government and society? In addition, one of themes in this course is that we can understand the Supreme Court in terms of a political "game." That is, we examine how the various participants at the Court attempt to achieve their goals within the "rules of the game," such as rules and norms on the Court (e.g., the Chief Justices assigns majority opinions if they are a member of the majority conference coalition) and the broader political context (e.g., divided government). After completing this class, students will possess greater knowledge about how and why the Court matters in American politics, as well as a better appreciation for how the tools of social science provide those answers. Note: This course counts towards the undergraduate American Politics subfield.
Course Attributes: EN S; AS SSC

Section 01

The Politics of the US Supreme Court
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