For many years, scholars in the field of public law have focused almost exclusively on the United States Supreme Court as the best example of judicial policymaking. The Court's activities have been studied as the products of the doctrinal development of the case law, the interaction of small groups, the formation of voting blocs and as a function of the social backgrounds and attitudes of the individual justices. 1 With the universal acceptance of the Court's role as a maker of public policy, specific court decisions have been analyzed and criticized in terms of their outcomes and impacts. 2 Now a Supreme Court decision is no longer evaluated as simply "good law" or "bad law"; it is examined also as good or bad social policy. 3
There are undoubtedly many reasons for political scientists to have concentrated heavily on the United States Supreme Court. One of the most obvious and prosaic reasons is the ease of data collection and analysis. There have been only approximately one hundred justices ever appointed to the Court, and their judicial biographies are commonly available. The decisions of the Court, published in three forms, are readily accessible in any major library. However, there are more important reasons for concentrating on the United States Supreme Court. The Court is a national body--one of three co-equal branches of the federal government--and, therefore, its decisions often have widespread and 'dramatic impact on public policy. Moreover, for a long time the Court itself may have discouraged the study of state courts' roles in the creation of public policy. The Roosevelt Court was responsible for the interment of the Tenth Amendment as a "truism" in United States v. Darby, 312 U.S. 100, 61 S.Ct. 451, 85 L.Ed.
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Publication information: Book title: The Role of State Supreme Courts in the New Judicial Federalism. Contributors: Susan P. Fino - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1987. Page number: 1.