POLI202 Notes - Baum - Ch. 5 and 6

POLI202 Notes - Baum - Ch. 5 and 6 - Ch 5 Policy Outputs...

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Unformatted text preview: Ch. 5: Policy Outputs Areas of Activity: What the Court Addresses During any given term, the Supreme Court resolves a broad range of issues…in this sense the Court’s agenda is highly diverse. But the Court generally devotes most of its efforts to a few policy fields. The Court’s Cur rent Activity 2004 term: 80 decisions with full opinions Decisions were closely connected with the other branches of government. The federal government or one of its agencies was a party in ¼ of the cases. State governments were parties in most other cases = 4/5 cases had at least one government party. Only a large minority of cases were decided on constitutional grounds – the majority of cases involved interpretations of federal statutes The Court devotes much of its collective energy to statutory interpretation, adjudicating disputes about the meaning of federal laws. 1. The Court’s primary area of activity was civil liberties (60% of Court’s decisions) – indication of Court’s specialization “Civil Liberties” = 1. Procedural rights of people involved in government proceedings 2. The right of disadvantaged groups to equal treatment 3. Certain “substantive” rights (most important: expression & religion) Criminal law and procedure: > 1/3 resulted from criminal prosecutions (some others related to criminal law and procedure) – always constitute a large minority of the Court’s cases. Large majority: constitutional protections of due process rights. 2. Economic issues (2 nd largest number of cases) – generally involve statutory interpretation (most arise from government regulation of economic activity) 3. Federalism (another major subject) – overlaps with other categories Change in the Court’s Agenda Changes in Specific Areas Sometimes an issue that has occupied a very small place on the Court’s agenda, or no place at all, becomes more prominent – more often than not, the source is action by Congress. Ex) Discrimination in employment, employee pension plans (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) The Court itself can open up new areas on its agenda with decisions that create legal rights or add to existing rights. Ex) Roe v. Wade, death penalty decisions Just as issues can rise on the Court’s agenda, they can also recede – once issues are resolved, the Court need not decide as many cases in this area. Ex) Benton v. Maryland (double jeopardy) Complexities of the agenda-setting process: Rise and fall of poverty law (LBJ’s War on Poverty) Changes in the Agenda as a Whole Beyond such changes in specific areas, the overall pattern of the Court’s agenda may change over a period of several decades. 1880’s-1930’s: 1. Economic issues, 2. Federalism, 3. Procedural due process, 4....
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POLI202 Notes - Baum - Ch. 5 and 6 - Ch 5 Policy Outputs...

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