The Gatekeepers: Federal District Courts in the Political Process

Synopsis

There are more than 600 Federal district judges serving today, and they decide some 230,000 civil cases each year. About 90% of the decisions they reach are final. Lyles argues that these lower court judges not only influence the flow of information to the judicial hierarchy, but also formulate questions that influence how higher courts, including the Supreme Court, respond. As such they are key elements in the formulation and implementation of public policy. To cite a few examples, they desegregate school districts, run mental institutions and prisons, break up monopolies, and reapportion legislatures.

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