Politics and the Courts: Toward a General Theory of Public Law

Politics and the Courts: Toward a General Theory of Public Law

Politics and the Courts: Toward a General Theory of Public Law

Politics and the Courts: Toward a General Theory of Public Law


In the public law area, it has been noted that judicial decisionmaking is not always objective, that the courts are not constrained by the law and the facts of the case, and that courts are actually policymakers influenced by extraneous factors having little to do with the legal and factual matters of a case. Yarnold argues that the public law area has discarded the traditional view of the judiciary as a passive interpreter of the law. She examines political and environmental variables that have been used to explain judicial outcomes and develops an original theory of public law explaining under what circumstances political variables impact court decisions, and when region, as an environmental variable, is related to judicial outcomes.


I would like to sincerely thank those who made this work possible. In graduate school, I was fortunate to work with two inspiring political scientists, Andrew McFarland and Lettie Wenner. I received a doctoral degree in public policy analysis/political science in 1988 from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

I drafted most of this book in my first year as an assistant professor of public administration at Florida International University, in North Miami, Florida. The reduced teaching load (two courses per semester) assisted me enormously in this endeavor, as did other material resources and the positive reinforcement of Dr. Allan Rosenbaum, dean of the School of Public Affairs; Dr. Harvey Averch, chairman of the department of public administration; the support staff at the university; and my friends and colleagues. Pauline M. Broderick also tirelessly and enthusiastically prepared an excellent index for this text.

Of course, I would not have embarked on this work had I not been motivated by love for humanity. To a great extent, I owe this to my family: Helen Marie Yarnold, my mother; Irena Maria Suszko, my aunt; Susan Maria Yarnold, my sister; and my brothers, Paul Richard Yarnold, Ph.D., Charles Nicholas Yarnold, James Alexander Yarnold, and Jack Christopher Yarnold.

Also, I dedicate this to the memory of my deceased father, James Knapps Yarnold, Ph.D., a dedicated father and scholar; and to my deceased grandparents, especially Stanislawa and Micolaj Suszko, who labored intensely so that their grandchildren might have a glimpse of hope.

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