Article

The Supreme Court of the United States

Carol Nackenoff

in Political Science

ISBN: 9780199756223
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0051
The Supreme Court of the United States

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The Supreme Court of the United States as a subject offers many different choices of direction. Academics in law schools sometimes approach the court and its work in ways that are different from those of historians, sociologists, political scientists, economists, and philosophers. The court is an institution, it produces outputs (decisions) in a wide array of issue areas, and it consists of individual members whose decisions can be treated as votes; it is a set of practices, it interprets a written Constitution, it is located in a system of separated (and sometimes shared) powers, it is lodged in a system of courts, and it is located in a federal system of government. The US Supreme Court and what it does can be compared to other constitutional courts in democratic systems of government. There are vigorous debates about whether the Constitution it interprets has a fixed meaning that should not change without Article V amendments, but few believe that, for good or ill, the meaning of the Constitution and its clauses has actually remained static. The Supreme Court as a subject raises questions about the relationship between ordinary statute law and constitutions, about constitutionalism, about the proper scope for judicial review, and about judicial supremacy and whether the court is claiming more authority for itself than in the past. A number of these issues are introduced here along with alternative approaches to the study of the court. One way of introducing the court has not been chosen: by areas of case law and the scholarship focused on particular issues or constitutional moments. Histories, encyclopedias, and bibliographies included here can introduce some of these issues and moments. Greater emphasis is placed on scholarship in the past half century than on earlier classics.

Article.  18338 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Comparative Politics ; Political Institutions ; Political Methodology ; Political Theory

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