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US Supreme Court Opinions and their Audiences

$28.99 (G)

  • Date Published: May 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316502105

$ 28.99 (G)

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About the Authors
  • This book is the first study specifically to investigate the extent to which US Supreme Court justices alter the clarity of their opinions based on expected reactions from their audiences. The authors examine this dynamic by creating a unique measure of opinion clarity and then testing whether the Court writes clearer opinions when it faces ideologically hostile and ideologically scattered lower federal courts; when it decides cases involving poorly performing federal agencies; when it decides cases involving states with less professionalized legislatures and governors; and when it rules against public opinion. The data shows the Court writes clearer opinions in every one of these contexts, and demonstrates that actors are more likely to comply with clearer Court opinions.

    • Examines Supreme Court opinion readability in response to various audiences (states, federal agencies, lower federal courts, public opinion)
    • Provides a new perspective on strategic judicial behavior
    • A comprehensive examination of how the Supreme Court strategically uses opinion language to achieve justices' goals
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "The authors present a careful, creative, and wide-ranging inquiry into the causes and effects of clarity in Supreme Court opinions. Their striking findings about the conditions that lead to greater clarity have important implications for our understanding of how justices think about the writing of opinions."
    Larry Baum, Ohio State University

    "For generations political scientists have studied who wins and loses in front of the US Supreme Court, focusing on dispute resolution rather than opinions the justices write. In US Supreme Court Opinions and their Audiences four leading political scientists study how the justices manipulate the clarity of opinions in light of their intended audiences, including lower courts, agencies, the states, and the people. This book is a must-read for any empirical legal scholar interested in taking law seriously in positive studies of Supreme Court behavior."
    Andrew Martin, University of Michigan

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316502105
    • length: 194 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 11 mm
    • weight: 0.27kg
    • contains: 25 b/w illus. 13 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. A theory: using opinion clarity to enhance compliance and manage public support
    3. Estimating the clarity of Supreme Court opinions
    4. Supreme Court opinions and Federal Circuit Courts
    5. Supreme Court opinions and Federal Agency implementors
    6. Supreme Court opinions and the States
    7. Supreme Court opinions and the secondary population
    8. Establishing compliance as a function of clarity
    9. Conclusion.

  • Authors

    Ryan C. Black, Michigan State University
    Ryan C. Black is Associate Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University.

    Ryan J. Owens, University of Wisconsin, Madison
    Ryan J. Owens is Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

    Justin Wedeking, University of Kentucky
    Justin Wedeking is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Kentucky.

    Patrick C. Wohlfarth, University of Maryland, College Park
    Patrick C. Wohlfarth is Assistant Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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