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Unpublished Paper
ExpressO (2007)
  • Nancy C Staudt
  • Jason O'Connor
  • Rene Lindstaedt
This article provides a new understanding of the Court-Congress dynamic. It responds to an important literature that for several decades now has misconstrued inter-branch relations as fraught with antagonism, hostility, and distrust. This unfriendly dynamic, it is argued, is evidenced by the repeated congressional overrides of Supreme Court cases. This claim, while true in some circumstances, ignores the friendly relations that exist between these two branches of government—relations that may be far more typical than scholars suspect. In this article, Professors Staudt, Lindstaedt, and O’Connor undertake a comprehensive study of congressional responses to Supreme Court cases and make a surprising finding: Overrides, although the sole focus in the extant literature, account for just a small portion of the legislative activity in response to the Court. In fact, Congress is just as likely to support and affirm judicial decision-making through the codification of a case outcome as they are to undermine a decision through an override. To investigate fully the nature of congressional oversight of Supreme Court decision-making, the authors undertake both qualitative and quantitative analyses of all the different types of legislative review. In doing this the authors make a series of important and robust findings that challenge and build on the Court-Congress literature. They identify the legal, political, and economic factors that explain why legislators take notice of Supreme Court cases, and are able to predict the factors that are correlated with congressional activity. This is the first comprehensive and all-encompassing study of Court-Congress relations and for this reason it has important normative and positive implications. The study highlights a complex and nuanced inter-branch dynamic and at the same time shows that the justices themselves are able to impact the legislative agenda to a far greater extent than heretofore understood. This study also provides an important challenge to scholars who have questioned whether the Supreme Court should have jurisdiction over complex issues, such as those in the economic context, given the justices’ lack of training as well as their apparent tendency to “bungle” difficult cases.
Publication Date
March, 2007
Citation Information
Nancy C Staudt, Jason O'Connor and Rene Lindstaedt. "JUDICIAL DECISIONS AS LEGISLATION" ExpressO (2007)
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