Michael Bailey and Forrest Maltzman show how two types of constraints have influenced the decision making of the modern Court. First, Bailey and Maltzman document that important legal doctrines, such as respect for precedents, have influenced every justice since 1950. The authors find considerable variation in how these doctrines affect each justice, variation due in part to the differing experiences justices have brought to the bench. Second, Bailey and Maltzman show that justices are constrained by political factors. Justices are not isolated from what happens in the legislative and executive branches, and instead respond in predictable ways to changes in the preferences of Congress and the president.
The Constrained Court shatters the myth that justices are unconstrained actors who pursue their personal policy preferences at all costs. By showing how law and politics interact in the construction of American law, this book sheds new light on the unique role that the Supreme Court plays in the constitutional order.
Choices is a thought-provoking, yet nontechnical work that is an ideal supplement for judicial process and public law courses. In addition to offering a unique and sustained theoretical account, the authors tell a fascinating story of how the Court works. Data culled from the Court's public records and from the private papers of Justices Brennan, Douglas, Marshall, and Powell provide empirical evidence to support the central argument, while numerous examples from the justices' papers animate the work.