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Law and American Political Development

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This essay reviews the recent volume edited by Ronald Kahn and Ken I. Kersch, The Supreme Court and American Political Development (2006), as well as the broader literature by law scholars interested in American Political Development (APD). The Law and APD literature has advanced our knowledge about courts by placing attention on the importance of executive and legislative actors, and by providing political context to our understanding of judicial decision making. But this knowledge would be more powerful if it would embrace the broader APD field's orientation toward the importance of state and institutional autonomy for understanding politics and political change. Law and APD scholars could go further in examining the ways in which courts and judges act institutionally, and how the legal branch as an institution impacts American politics and state-building. In doing so, Law and APD scholars would contribute not only to our understanding of judicial decision making but also to our understanding of the place and importance of courts in American politics.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1747-4469.2008.00121.x

Affiliations: Princeton University

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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