Law and Social Change
Political Science 524
Description: Many law-related classes emphasize the
processes that lead to court decisions or the content of those
decisions. But for legal specialists concerned with the relation
of law to society, the most interesting aspect of the judicial
process begins after a high court issues its mandate. How will
lower courts interpret it? Under what circumstances will they
comply or defy with the decision? Will authorities and other
actors implement it? Do individuals directly affected by the
decision actually receive benefits or suffer costs? In what ways
will other segments of society respond to it? And, ultimately and
most critically, can courts-via their decisions- generate serious
social, political, or economic change?
To address these and other questions, we consider the vast legal and social-scientific literature on the implementation and impact of court decisions, as well as the decisions themselves. We end the course with two case studies (on race discrimination and pay equity), both of which allow for the explicit consideration of whether courts can generate change.
Books: Please purchase the following books:
Grading: I base grades on the quality of your written work (75%) and class attendance/participation (25%).