and Judicial Actions
If presidents do not get their way with Congress in the civil rights realm, and evidence suggests that they often do not (see chapter 6), then potential solutions exist through the courts and bureaucracy. Research ( Nathan 1983; Waterman 1989) has shown the increasing proclivity of presidents to turn to administrative actions when proposed legislation is not forthcoming or when they oppose existing laws. This chapter covers a myriad of actions used to influence executive and judicial actors in formulating civil rights policy. Presidents issue executive orders and other directives to obtain their policy preferences. Presidents also attempt to influence agency decisions, such as asking the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department to initiate or drop lawsuits.
Presidents also take judicial actions. While judges do not look kindly on overt attempts by presidents to influence their decisions ( Scigliano 1971, 62-64), presidential administrations participate in cases through amicus curiae briefs and by prosecuting or defending cases in which the government itself is a party ( O'Connor and Epstein 1983). President Kennedy, for example, entered "friendof the court" briefs for desegregation in federally impacted areas ( Congress and the Nation, 1: 1965, 1631). Presidents can entreat the Justice Department through the solicitor general to influence the courts as well as the bureaucracy.