1st Edition

The Supreme Court in a Separation of Powers System The Nation's Balance Wheel

By Richard Pacelle Copyright 2015
    326 Pages
    by Routledge

    326 Pages
    by Routledge

    The U.S. Supreme Court is not a unitary actor and it does not function in a vacuum. It is part of an integrated political system in which its decisions and doctrine must be viewed in a broader context. In some areas, the Court is the lead policy maker. In other areas, the Court fills in the gaps of policy created in the legislative and executive branches. In either instance, the Supreme Court’s work is influenced by and in turn influences all three branches of the federal government as well as the interests and opinions of the American people.

    Pacelle analyzes the Court’s interaction in the separation of powers system, detailing its relationship to the presidency, Congress, the bureaucracy, public opinion, interest groups, and the vast system of lower courts. The niche the Court occupies and the role it plays in American government reflect aspects of both the legal and political models. The Court has legal duties and obligations as well as some freedom to exercise its collective political will. Too often those studying the Court have examined it in isolation, but this book urges scholars and students alike to think more broadly and situate the highest court as the "balance wheel" in the American system.

    Selected Contents: Introduction. Recalculating: Getting to the Supreme Court with a GPS 1. The Supreme Court: The Nation’s Balance Wheel? 2. The Supreme Court and the President: An "Informal and Limited Alliance" 3. The Supreme Court and Congress: The First Shall be Last, Will the Last be First? 4. The Supreme Court and the Bureaucracy: The Clash of Kafkaesque Forces? 5. Public Opinion: The Two Faces of Janus 6. "Lobbying" the Judicial Branch: May it Please the Court? 7. The Supreme Court and the Lower Courts: A Bureaucracy to Call Your Own 8. Conclusion


    Richard L. Pacelle, Jr., is Professor and Head of the Department of Political Science at the University of Tennesse. His research focuses on the U.S. Supreme Court and he is the recipient of numerous awards for both teaching and scholarship.

    "The splendid isolation in which the Supreme Court operates is a myth, as this volume makes clear. A range of external actors and influences affect the behavior of the Supreme Court, and failing to properly appreciate this fact runs the risk of seriously misunderstanding the institution. Professor Pacelle offers readers a comprehensive view of the Court in context, one marked by both depth and breadth, and does so with his usual flair and style."Wendy L. Martinek, Binghamton University.

    "The Supreme Court in a Separation of Powers System is an accessible and engaging look at the role of the Court in American politics. It stands out for its careful consideration of the Court’s interactions with the other branches of government, the public, interest groups, and lower courts. This is a rare feat and a most welcome addition to the field." – Paul Collins University of Massachusetts, Amherst

    " Pacelle includes a rich array of institutional literature beyond public law and judicial behavior and encourages readers to take different “routes” through the book, depending upon the readers' methodological comfort and interest....Pacelle’s analysis remains convincing because both orientations have strained, but not broken, the Supreme Court’s legitimacy.  This comprehensive treatment flows with a direct, even cheeky, writing style."--J. Farrier, University of Louisville