From the foregoing description of the events that followed the decision in Roe v. Wade, it seems evident that some decisions of the Supreme Court have such extended consequences that they rival elections in bringing about changes in society. Obviously, we need better analytical tools for dealing with the impact of Court decisions. One approach to this subject that might be useful would be to work out a typology of decisions. In this typology, decisions that have a broad across-the-board impact, like Brown v. Board of Education or Roe v. Wade, would be identified as "restructuring decisions," similar to the "realigning elections" used in the analysis by Angus Campbell and his associates in The American Voter. Below this megadecision level, there could be descending categories of decisions that have a much more limited potential for impact—either because they deal with routine, technical, or procedural matters that are unlikely to generate much change in the way legal business is transacted; because they are primarily structural in their importance; because they target a specific abuse; or because they settle disputes of very little interest to the general public.
Certain pivotal decisions, however, reach more broadly beyond the Court reports, are important political events in their own right, and set off a chain reaction. 1Roe v. Wade clearly belongs in the