Historical Development of Supreme Court Research

Authored by: Christopher N. Krewson , Ryan J. Owens

Routledge Handbook of Judicial Behavior

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138913356
eBook ISBN: 9781315691527
Adobe ISBN:


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If the history of Supreme Court research tells us anything, it is that those who cling relentlessly to their theories soon find themselves on the outside looking in. Theories are born, some thrive, and nearly all suffocate under the weight of new evidence. Today that weight is bearing down on current theories of judicial behavior. Those theories argue that justices’ ideologies, and often those ideologies alone, explain their decisions. While ideology explains much Supreme Court behavior, ideology alone cannot possibly explain it all. Justices most certainly act on other goals. Unless political scientists grapple with alternative motivations for judicial behavior—motivations that are looking increasingly likely—history suggests they will lose their influence over Supreme Court scholarship (Epstein and Knight 2013).

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