The judiciary and its ancillary players occupy an important and unique space in the world of American politics. Judges make decisions that impact not only the parties to a case but can have important implications for public policy outside of the case at hand. Litigants, attorneys, and interest groups understand that courts can shape policy and often try to use the legal system to their advantage. This is true for big policy questions and constitutional law but is also true for the day-to-day business of lower courts and judges. Americans often view courts, and judges in particular, as above the political fray. However, a deep investigation of judicial politics involves an understanding that these actors and institutions live simultaneously in the legal and political worlds and that the difference between the two is not as stark as we might first believe.
Satisfies the Social-Scientific Thought requirement.