The principal purpose of this course is to provide students with a systematic understanding of the U.S. Supreme Court. After discussing the social scientific study of the Court, we will examine theoretical issues regarding judicial process and politics. This course, unlike the constitutional law classes, does not focus on legal doctrine; rather, it examines political aspects of the Supreme Court, with an emphasis on the social scientific literature on law and politics. We will seek to understand phenomena such as the following: (1) Why does the Court change law? (2) Under what circumstances does the Court overrule precedent? (3) Do elected politicians (such as members of congress) influence how the Court decides cases (4) How does bargaining among the Justices influence the development of legal doctrine? One of the themes in this course is how we can understand the judiciary in terms of a political "game." That is, we will examine how the various participants in the judiciary attempt to achieve their goals within the constraints of the institution and its surrounding environment. Additionally, students will write a major research paper in which they will explain a specific set of judicial behaviors or events. The paper requires each student to undertake original research (i.e., the gathering of original evidence) in an effort to test their explanation.
Course Attributes: EN S; BU BA; AS SSC; FA SSC; AR SSC