University of Southern California
Lee Epstein
trans
Provost Professor of Law and Political Science & Rader Family Trustee Chari in Law
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THE U.S. SUPREME COURT

[Note: This is hardly an inclusive list of the many empirical studies on the Court.
Students interested in additional readings should contact me.]

I. The Basics
(August 22)

  1. Introduction to the Course
    1. Collaboration between Law and Social Science
    2. Paper Assignments
  2. Introduction to the Supreme Court
    1. Overview of Processes and Procedures
    2. Sketch of the Court
  3. Introduction to Social Science Methods for Analyzing the Court

Readings

II. Getting On and Off the Court
(August 29, September 12)

  1. "Good Behaviour"
  2. Vacancies
  3. Appointing Supreme Court Justices
    1. Nominations
    2. Confirmations
  4. Who Makes It?

Readings

III. Getting Into the Court
(September 19, September 26)

  1. Access to the Court: A Look at the Process
  2. Explaining the Decision to Grant or Deny Cert
    1. What the Court Says
    2. What Legal Scholars Say

Readings

IV. Approaches to Judging
(September 26, October 3, October 10, October 17)

  1. Overview of the Approaches
  2. The Legal Model
  3. Ideology
  4. Strategic Accounts
    1. The Internal Context of Judging
    2. The External Context of Judging

Readings

  1. Overview of the Chief Justice of the United States
  2. Opinion Assignment
  3. Appointment Power

Readings:

VI. Lawyering: The Role of Oral Arguments and Briefs
(October 24, October 31)

  1. Lessons from the Brown Campaign
  2. The Solicitor General
  3. The Supreme Court Bar
  4. Oral Argument & Briefs

Readings

  1. The Effect of the Court on Public Opinion
  2. The Effect of Public Opinion on the Court
  3. Macro-Events

Readings

VIII. The Impact of the Court
(November 14, November 21)

  1. The Court and the American Legal System
  2. The Court and American Society

Readings

IX. Loose Ends, Wrap-Up
(November 28)

[Third Essay Due on December 2]