• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Seventeen thought-provoking essays in this sophisticated yet accessible reader demonstrate how political scientists conduct research on law, courts, and the judicial process, and at the same time answer interesting, substantive questions. Illustrating the breadth and depth of judicial politics studies, the essays convey to students the array of contemporary thinking -- both theoretical and methodological -- at work in the field. The book's five parts cover subjects taught in most judicial politics courses. Because each chapter stands alone, instructors have the flexibility of assigning less than the whole book or chapters in a different order. Topics examined range from information used by voters electing judges to the credibility of victims of sexualized violence. Accessible to both undergraduate and graduate students, Contemplating Courts offers fascinating views ...

Actors in the Legal System
Actors in the legal system

When journalists write about judicial proceedings, they often refer to a “court,” as in “The court ruled for the defendant,” or “The court dismissed the case.” Such terminology gives the lie to two beliefs. The first is that courts are themselves useful explanatory concepts.1 This is typically not the case, because, as we all know, courts cannot rule for defendants or dismiss cases: only individuals can do these things. To be sure, it may be convenient and even important for journalists and scholars to talk about collectivities (such as courts) making choices (such as ruling for defendants or dismissing cases). But when we do so, we must realize that it is individuals who make choices, have ...

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