This chapter gives the reader a closer look at the work of six state supreme courts. I examine the decisions of the courts in light of the factors related to supreme court performance outlined in the model proposed in Chapter 1. I suggest that state internal unity, political culture and institutional characteristics of the state judiciary are related to the performance of the courts although the relationships are far from perfect.
A few words of caution are in order for this chapter. The arguments here cannot be "proven" or "disproven" by anything in the data set. The chapter is primarily an impressionistic application of the model of performance. The purpose here is to demonstrate the uses and limits of the model and to offer a subjective evaluation of the performance of the courts in light of the model. No claim is made that the arguments can apply to all courts at all times or that certain cultural or institutional characteristics will necessarily cause certain variations in court performance. However, the chapter enables the reader to develop a qualitative appreciation of the differences in performance and a sense of some of the possible sources of that variation. The reader should take some comfort in the knowledge that these impressions are derived from the reading and coding of more than 1,200 full opinions, rather than personal whimsy. Conclusions on the performance of the courts and recommendations for the improvement of state courts of last resort are reserved for the final chapter. 1
Elazar ( 1966) has developed a twelve-point scale to rate the degree of internal unity of a state: the lower the score, the higher the degree