Chapter 6: Policy Making

There is a life to the law. The outputs of courts, whether they be supreme court or trial court decisions, influence public policy. It is often perceived that a single decision creates an earthquake in the law and drastically alters the policy landscape. However, our two contributions here, reveal that this is hardly the case. Richard Pacelle and Barry Pyle and Rebecca Reid and Kirk Randazzo show us clearly that there is a dynamism to the law. Pacelle and Pyle shows us the pattern of policy evolution at the U.S. Supreme Court—a pattern that goes well beyond the initial landmark case and often continues for decades, ebbing and flowing to build a strong body of precedent that is often credited to the initial case such as Brown, Roe or Mapp. Looking abroad, Reid and Randazzo reveal how the interplay of state participation in intergovernmental organizations yields changes in legal norms and decisions. Focusing on issues of human rights, these scholars demonstrate how supreme courts follow the lead of their national governments, thereby resulting in a greater diffusion of human rights norms.



6.1 Pacelle, Richard and Barry Pyke. “The Language of Newspaper Coverage of the US Supreme Court.”

6.2 Reid, Rebecca and Kirk Randazzo. “Black Robes in the Limelight: News Values and Requests to Televise Oral Arguments in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 1991–2005.”


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Open Judicial Politics Copyright © 2020 by Rorie Spill Solberg, Jennifer Segal Diascro, & Eric J. Waltenburg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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