Legal scholars and political scientists recently have "rediscovered" state constitutions and state supreme courts. In the last several years, numerous articles have appeared in the law reviews investigating the role of state courts of last resort in the development of state constitutional law, especially in the areas of civil rights and liberties. Whether this new interest in state courts is the product of a conservative's "new federalism" or a liberal's search for alternatives to the Burger Court is open to debate. Whatever the reasons for the reconsideration of state courts and state law, as a political scientist, I welcome the opportunity to study state supreme courts in the larger context of American federalism.
This book represents an initial effort to lay the foundation for the systematic study of state supreme courts and their performance, especially in the area of the development of an independent and adequate body of state constitutional law. I integrate the findings of a number of social scientists into a comprehensive model of state supreme court performance and test the utility of the model in an investigation of the institutional structure of state court systems, the social backgrounds of the justices and the docket of six selected state courts. The reader will find that, on occasion, I illustrate my arguments with some quantitative findings. However, even those who winced when the grammar- school teacher reached for the flashcards need not worry about what little "math" appears in this book. For the most part, simple percentage comparisons are the only statistical techniques used. However, even this rather elementary quantitative technique creates a broader and more accurate picture of the state courts, their justices and their