1st Edition

The Impact of Supreme Court Decisions on US Institutions A Sociology of Law Primer

By Robert Costello, Colleen Eren Copyright 2022
    188 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    188 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book bridges the disciplines of legal studies and sociology in its engaging introduction to the history, purpose, function, and influence of the Supreme Court, demonstrating through ten landmark decisions the Court’s impact on the five key sociological institutions in the United States: family, education, religion, government, and economy. It gives an insightful picture of how these major decisions have additionally affected other sociological categories such as gender, sexual orientation, race, class/inequality, and deviance. The reader not only gains familiarity with foundational concepts in both sociology and constitutional law, but is given tools to decipher the legal language of Supreme Court decisions through non-intimidating abridgments of those decisions, enhancing their critical literacy. This book demonstrates the direct applicability of the Supreme Court to the lives of Americans and how landmark decisions have far-reaching repercussions that affect all of us.

    The Impact of Supreme Court Decisions on US Institutions is essential reading for undergraduate students in social science courses as well as others interested in the workings of the justice system.


    1. The US Supreme Court: A Brief Overview

    2. US Institutions: A Brief Introduction

    3. Education

    4. Family

    5. Religion

    6. Government

    7. Economy


    Robert Costello, JD., EdD., is Chair and Professor of Criminal Justice at SUNY Nassau Community College and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at Hofstra University. He earned a Doctor of Education from Dowling College, a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice from SUNY Albany, a Master of Arts in Sociology and a Juris Doctorate both from St. John’s University and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences from Hofstra University. An author of over 75 publications, he received a Fulbright Scholar's Award in Law to lecture at the University of Malta Faculty of Law. Other honors include serving as a Visiting Scholar at the University of Cambridge's Institute of Criminology/Socio-Legal Group, Associate Faculty Member at Columbia University's Faculty Seminar Series/Drugs & Society, and Research Associate at Hofstra University’s Maurice A. Deane School of Law/Center for Children, Families and the Law. His prior books include New York’s Criminal Justice System (2019) and New Jersey’s Criminal Justice System (2020). He also writes a column for Criminal Justice, a quarterly periodical of the American Bar Association. A dedicated classroom educator, his work and commitment to students has been recognized with various honors including a SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, Faculty Appreciation Awards from the NCC Center for Students with Disabilities and the NCC Student Organization of Latinos. Admitted to practice law in New York State, he is a Certified Impartial Hearing Officer and adjudicates disputes between parents and public schools over special education matters within the New York City region. He is also admitted to the United States Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York and the United States Federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York. His community work includes serving as a board member for several non-profits and on editorial boards for academic journals.

    Colleen Eren, PhD., is Program Director of Criminology and Criminal Justice and an Associate Professor at William Paterson University. A member of the Criminal Justice Research Alliance, her first book, Bernie Madoff and the Crisis: The Public Trial of Capitalism (2017) examined how the Ponzi scheme became a vehicle through which to discuss socio-economic issues behind the financial crisis of 2008. Her upcoming book, Reform Nation: The Movement Against Mass Incarceration, with Stanford University Press explores the unlikely confluence of stakeholders uniting around criminal justice reform for the past 20 years. She has been published in numerous academic journals and media outlets, including The Journal of White Collar and Corporate Crime, the Journal of Criminal Justice Education, New Politics, as well as in the New York Times. She previously served as Director of Organizing at New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty, helping to successfully lead a statewide campaign, and was a steering committee member of Amnesty’s Program to Abolish the Death Penalty. She is an executive committee board member of New Hour for Women and Children.