Law and Political Ideologies

Julie Novkov

in The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199208425
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Political Science

 Law and Political Ideologies

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The struggle over police power and the legitimacy of labor regulations, the establishment of twentieth-century white supremacy, the contest between pro-choice and pro-life forces, and conservative efforts to end affirmative action all illustrate the relationship between law and ideology. Close readings of the cases in these areas, the institutional arrangements behind them, and the social and political dynamics driving the issues onto the courts' dockets demonstrate that ideology is not a free-floating force that independently causes judicial outcomes. A multifaceted analysis, however, also rejects the interpretation that ideology, as distinguished from doctrinal rule, plays no role in judicial decision making. Legal scholarship and popular discussion of the role of the judiciary at times presents a debate about when the intervention of ideology is appropriate in judicial decision making and whether it is more apt to happen at certain historical moments than others. The era of strong contract rights in the early twentieth century in the United States is often understood as a moment when judges simply ruled in favor of their political connections to conservative and propertied business interests.

Keywords: United States; law; ideology; police power; labor regulations; white supremacy; pro-choice; pro-life; affirmative action; judicial decision making

Article.  7658 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Politics and Law ; Political Theory

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