The Gatekeepers: Federal District Courts in the Political Process

By Kevin L. Lyles | Go to book overview

district court judges as policymakers in the American political system generally.

Next, I begin the study by taking a closer look at the historical, as well as the institutional and functional, contexts in which federal district courts and judges work.


NOTES
1.
Memorandum written by Tom Charles Houston, a White House aide to President Nixon, on March 25, 1969, about two months after the start of the Nixon presidency. A copy of this memorandum was found by political scientist Sheldon Goldman in White House Central Files, FG 50, Box 1, Folder WHCF ExFG50, The Judicial Branch ( 1969- 1970). Excerpts from the Nixon Presidential Materials Project, are published in Goldman's "The Bush Imprint on the Judiciary: Carrying on a Tradition," Judicature 74 ( 1991), p. 294. According to Goldman, the original copy of the memorandum, with written comments by President Nixon, was withdrawn from the president's papers at Nixon's direction.
2.
See Appendix A.
3.
Previous research on lower court judges' attitudes and perceptions has focused on issues such as district court judge socialization (e.g., see Robert A. Carp and Russell Wheeler , "Sink or Swim: The Socialization of a Federal District Judge," Journal of Politics 21 ( 1972), pp. 359-393; and Beverly B. Cook, "The Socialization of New Federal Judges: Impact on District Court Business," Washington University Law Quarterly, Spring ( 1971), pp. 253-279.); institutional perceptions using role analysis (e.g., William Kitchin , Federal District Judges: An Analysis of Judicial Perceptions [ Baltimore: Collage Press, 1978]; selected three-judge district courts (e.g., Thomas G. Walker, "Judges in Concert: The Influence of the Group on Judicial Decision-Making," unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Kentucky, 1970); race relations and trial judges (see, e.g., Kenneth N. Vines, "Federal District Judges and Race Relations Cases in the South," Journal of Politics 26 ( 1964), pp. 337-357, and Jack Peltason, 58 Lonely Men: Southern Federal Judges and School Desegregation [ Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1971]; rulings on police practices ( Kenneth Dolbeare, "The Federal District Courts and Urban Public Policy: An Exploratory Study (1960-1967)," Joel B. Grossman and Joseph Tanenhaus , eds., Frontiers of Judicial Research [ New York: Wiley, 1969], pp. 373- 404); and sentencing behavior of district court judges ( Susan Welch, with Michael Combs and John Gruhl, "Do Black Judges Make a Difference?" American Journal of Political Science 32 ( 1988), pp. 126-136, and Beverly B. Cook, "Sentencing Behavior of Federal Judges: Draft Cases, 1972," University of Cincinnati Law Review 42 ( 1973), pp. 597-633). Although the NDJS ( 1992-1996) revisits many of these issues, it differs from these previous works in that it is a national sample (as opposed to a nonrandom sample of twenty-one lengthy interviews covering only four circuits, i.e., Kitchin, 1978), and includes a broader range of inquiry with primary emphasis on the nomination and appointment process.
4.
Jack Peltason, Federal Courts in the Political Process ( New York: Random House, 1955).
5.
See Martin Shapiro, Law and Politics in the Supreme Court ( New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1964); and John Hart Ely, Democracy and Distrust: A Theory of Judicial Review ( Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980).
6.
Robert Dahl, "Decision-making in a Democracy: The Supreme Court as a NationalPolicy-Maker,"

-7-

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