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Building the Judiciary

Building the Judiciary: Law, Courts, and the Politics of Institutional Development

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    Building the Judiciary
    Book Description:

    How did the federal judiciary transcend early limitations to become a powerful institution of American governance? How did the Supreme Court move from political irrelevance to political centrality?Building the Judiciaryuncovers the causes and consequences of judicial institution-building in the United States from the commencement of the new government in 1789 through the close of the twentieth century. Explaining why and how the federal judiciary became an independent, autonomous, and powerful political institution, Justin Crowe moves away from the notion that the judiciary is exceptional in the scheme of American politics, illustrating instead how it is subject to the same architectonic politics as other political institutions.

    Arguing that judicial institution-building is fundamentally based on a series of contested questions regarding institutional design and delegation, Crowe develops a theory to explain why political actors seek to build the judiciary and the conditions under which they are successful. He both demonstrates how the motivations of institution-builders ranged from substantive policy to partisan and electoral politics to judicial performance, and details how reform was often provoked by substantial changes in the political universe or transformational entrepreneurship by political leaders. Embedding case studies of landmark institution-building episodes within a contextual understanding of each era under consideration, Crowe presents a historically rich narrative that offers analytically grounded explanations for why judicial institution-building was pursued, how it was accomplished, and what--in the broader scheme of American constitutional democracy--it achieved.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4257-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    Justin Crowe
  4. CHAPTER ONE The Puzzle of Judicial Institution Building
    (pp. 1-22)

    When the United States Supreme Court convened for the first time in history at the Royal Exchange Building in New York City on February 2, 1790,¹ it was a sorry scene, and even the justices knew it. With only four of George Washington’s initial six nominees bothering to show up and the Court lacking even a single case to hear,² Chief Justice John Jay and his three colleagues in attendance—associate justices James Wilson, William Cushing, and John Blair—spent the session devising procedures for the conduct of actual business. The justices could not have known then that they would...

    (pp. 23-83)

    The early republic was a volatile time.¹ Though a decade had passed from the firing of the first shots of independence at Lexington and Concord, to the opening gavel of the first session of the new government in New York City, the United States was still a work in progress. Since the Treaty of Paris in 1783, Americans had already discarded one governmental framework (that instituted by the Articles of Confederation) and, by 1789, were trying a new, and undoubtedly riskier, one. Swirling around the experiment of constitutional democracy were obstacles both foreign and domestic: avoiding another war with England,...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Jeffersonian and Jacksonian Democracy: REORGANIZATION
    (pp. 84-131)

    If the early republic was America’s infancy, then the first half of the nineteenth century was its adolescence. The government had survived its early years—the uncertainty of the First Congress, the farewell of George Washington, the rise of political parties, the emergence of contested elections, and the first transfer of power from one coalition to another—but a new set of challenges had surfaced.¹ Many of those challenges were the result of the vast territorial expansion that occurred during the period. From the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 to the annexation of Texas in 1845 to the vast tracts of...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR The Civil War and Reconstruction: EMPOWERMENT
    (pp. 132-170)

    The twenty-eight years from the passage of the infamous Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 to the removal of Northern troops from the South in 1877 witnessed nothing less than the dissolution of one political order and the reconstitution of another.¹ From the mounting sectional tensions swirling around antebellum politics to the internecine bloodshed at Gettysburg and Antietam to the Northern division of the South into five occupied military districts, American society was in legitimate upheaval for nearly three decades. Prompted by the explosion of disagreements over slavery, states’ rights, and economic development—founding-era contradictions that had simmered beneath the surface...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE The Gilded Age and the Progressive Era: RESTRUCTURING
    (pp. 171-196)

    Although the end of Reconstruction in 1877 brought a close to the bloodiest and most divisive period in American history, the transformation of American politics and society unleashed by the Civil War and its aftermath continued into the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth.¹ With the twin processes of industrialization and governmental centralization accelerating substantially,² these years encompassed both the triumph of an industrial economy and the growth of an administrative state. Originating in the 1870s shift of Republican priorities from securing political and social equality for African Americans to facilitating economic prosperity...

  9. CHAPTER SIX The Interwar and New Deal Years: BUREAUCRATIZATION
    (pp. 197-237)

    World War I began as America reached a crossroads.¹ By that point, the “promise of American life” had been challenged,² and it was not yet clear which course the nation would take in restoring it. The continued growth of business and industry meant more economic development but also more conflicts between labor and management over unionization, yellow dog contracts, and injunctions. The continued expansion of regulatory government meant the protection of consumers and citizens from the harsh realities of the market but also a rapidly expanding executive bureaucracy. The American rise to international prominence meant financial and diplomatic interests around...

    (pp. 238-269)

    As America emerged triumphant from its wartime engagements, it found itself both a consolidated administrative state and a critical world power.¹ Indeed, if the nation faced any lingering questions about either the character of its regime or its role in the world when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, it almost certainly had clear answers by the time Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed nearly four years later. Domestically, the wartime mobilization had fully eradicated the last remaining vestiges of the 1930s economic doldrums, in the process necessitating closer governmental supervision of growth and distribution through measures such as production boards...

  11. CHAPTER EIGHT Judicial Power in a Political World
    (pp. 270-280)

    “With all due deference to separation of powers,” Barack Obama said in his second State of the Union Address in January 2010, “last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections.”¹ A response to the Court’s controversial decision inCitizens United v. Federal Election Commission,² Obama’s remarks—including his subsequent plea to Congress to “pass a bill that helps correct some of these problems”³—were met with cheers by much of the audience, though not, of course, by the...

  12. INDEX
    (pp. 281-295)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 296-296)