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The Judicial Tug of War


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Table of Contents

1. Introduction; Part I. The Legal Profession and the 'Captured Judiciary': 2. The 'American Aristocracy'; 3. The Bar, Self Regulation, and Judicial Capture; Part II. Political Actors and the Incentive to Politicize: 4. Politicians, their Interests, and the Judicial Tug of War; 5. Politicization in the Federal Courts; 6. Politicization in the States; Part III. Ramifications of the Judicial Tug of War: 7. Politics of Judicial Reform; 8. Polarization and Conflict; 9. Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

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Presents a novel theory explaining how and why politicians and lawyers politicise courts.

About the Author

Adam Bonica is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Stanford University. Maya Sen is Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.


'This impressive book explains how demographic and ideological trends have triggered political battles over the powers and composition of courts in the United States. With their sophisticated exploitation of massive data sets, the authors set a new standard for empirical research of the judiciary.' Eric Posner, University of Chicago
'Proceeding from an original premise about the tug of war between the legal establishment and political elites over the courts, Bonica and Sen provide compelling, evidence-based answers to some of the most pressing questions of our time: why partisan conflicts arise over the judiciary, what they mean for the development of the law, and what the future holds. Elegantly written and chock full of interesting facts, The Judicial Tug of War merits attention in academic, legal, and policy circles.' Lee Epstein, Washington University, St. Louis
'Since federal judges have life tenure, the contours and composition of America's judiciary will be the most enduring result of our fraught political moment. This fascinating book to help us navigate ideological battles over the courts - a war which will only intensify after the 2020 election- and adds the legal profession as a little-understood player to the analytical mix. If there aren't enough reasons to be wary of lawyers, Bonica and Sen provide another: in a system designed to put judges above politics and remain free of partisanship, lawyers seem to wield undue influence on who ends up wearing the robes and what decisions they make once seated.' Steven Mazie, The Economist
'... THE JUDICIAL TUG OF WAR is an important and original book that should be widely read by scholars, politicians, lawyers, judges, the media, and the public.' Matthew E. Baker, Law and Politics Book Review

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