What's Law Got to Do with It? What Judges Do, Why They Do It, and What's at Stake

By Charles Gardner Geyh | Go to book overview
Save to active project

1 What’s Law Got to Do with it
Thoughts from “the Realm of Political Science”

Jeffrey A. Segal

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS has declared himself to be a believer in precedent, a follower of the rule of law, an umpire calling balls and strikes:

Somebody asked me, you know, “Are you going to be on the side of the little
guy?” And you obviously want to give an immediate answer, but, as you reflect
on it, if the Constitution says that the little guy should win, the little guy’s going
to win in court before me. But if the Constitution says that the big guy should
win, well, then the big guy’s going to win, because my obligation is to the Con-
stitution. That’s the oath.” (Roberts 2005)

While this may have been mere show, it wasn’t mere show just for the Judiciary Committee. In a recent speech at the University of Arizona’s Rehnquist Center, Roberts declared that the shift to a Supreme Court filled exclusively with former appellate judges took constitutional law out of “the realm of political science” and onto “the more solid grounds of legal arguments. What are the texts of the statutes involved? What precedents control?”(Liptak 2009).

Let’s leave aside for the moment the fact that Roberts’s assertions are empirically false—justices who served on lower appellate courts are not more likely to abide by precedent, and are not less likely to vote ideologically than are judges without appellate court experience (Epstein et al. 2009). What is the realm of political science? A quick answer is that political science examinations of judicial decision-making have focused on four partially overlapping models of such behavior: the legal model, the historical institutional model, the attitudinal model, and the strategic model.

-17-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
What's Law Got to Do with It? What Judges Do, Why They Do It, and What's at Stake
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 356

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?