The Influence of the Individual Justice
Scholars face a daunting task when attempting to analyze precisely the roles and influence of individual justices on the Supreme Court. Although the individual decision makers on the high court--unlike decision makers in larger, bureaucratic institutions--are few in number and therefore identifiable, the secretive traditions of the judicial branch impede accurate assessments of many aspects of justices' behavior. The justices' discussions with each other are secret, except on the infrequent occasions when law clerks leak information to the press, and the justices rarely agree to be interviewed by scholars or the news media. Because the Supreme Court is not accessible to scholars who wish to examine in detail the justices' attitudes and decision-making behavior, the analysis in this book, like other books on Supreme Court decision- making processes, necessarily relies on the interpretation of developments in justices' opinions, justices' voting patterns, and anecdotal information reported by scholars and the news media. Interpretive works of this sort, despite their prevalence in the field of Supreme Court politics and constitutional law, inevitably generate debates among scholars about whether the evidence relied upon actually supports an author's asserted conclusions.