The Gatekeepers: Federal District Courts in the Political Process

By Kevin L. Lyles | Go to book overview

10 The Gatekeepers: Conclusions

INTRODUCTION

This book has examined the interaction of law and politics in the federal district courts. My primary findings allow us to delineate more precisely the nature and effect of the various linkages between law and politics in our constitutional governing system. Particularly, the findings shed light on the role and function of federal district courts in the judicial hierarchy and in the policy process generally. This study also examines the relative role of the president in judicial selection, namely presidential attempts to achieve executive policy goals through the judicial performance of their district court nominees.

The analysis also demonstrates vividly that federal district court judges themselves hold a wide variety of views and perspectives on how they view their role and the basic interactive nature of law and politics in our governing system. As such, the findings illuminate and reinforce several key lessons that may be discerned from this study of the federal district courts.


LESSONS

1. BOTH THE SYSTEMIC AND INSTITUTIONAL ROLE AND FUNCTION OF THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTS PLACE THEM SQUARELY IN THE POLICYMAKING PROCESS.

The analysis throughout this volume reveals, in many instances, that federal district court judges play important roles and hold the balance in decisions on the principal issues of the day, including: abortion, court-ordered busing, affirmative action, school prayer, and religious freedoms. Thus, district courts, like the U.S. Supreme Court, invariably become involved, as Jack Peltason

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