When we think of judicial activism–the Court's role in making public policy–we often focus on individuals: the Robert Borks or Thurgood Marshalls of the times. In this book, Richard Pacelle explores the institutional judicial activism of the Supreme Court through the dramatic changes in its agenda as it has evolved from 1933 to the present. Once dominated by economic issues, the Supreme Court's agenda is now populated largely by cases involving individual rights and liberties. This shift is hardly accidental, Pacelle argues, and he offers quantitative as well as qualitative assessments of the means and motivations for change. Over 7,500 cases serve as the basis of analysis, and the narrative is amplified by informative appendixes: an explanation of the author's case taxonomy, a chronology of the Court's chief justices, a list of cases cited, and a digest of key cases. The systematic framework provided for tracing historical changes in the Supreme Court's agenda is the first of its kind and is sure to be valuable in future analyses and projections of coming change beyond the Rehnquist Court.
The Supreme Court's Agenda and American Politics -- A Theoretical Framework for Agenda Building and Change -- The Transformation of the Agenda and the Supreme Court -- The Waning of Economic Issues: Shifting Agenda Priorities -- Federalism and U.S. Regulation: The Transitional Agenda -- The Growth of Civil Liberties: The Modern Agenda -- The Rehnquist Court and the Future of the Court's Agenda -- Inclusion of Cases and Composition of Policy Areas -- Tenure of Chief Justices of the United States -- Supreme Court Decisions Cited -- Digest of Important Cases