The State and Federal Courts

A Complete Guide to History, Powers, and Controversy

by Christopher P. Banks, Editor


State and federal judiciaries are often thought of as unbiased, apolitical institutions. Nothing could be further than the truth.

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Cover image for The State and Federal Courts

January 2017


Pages 513
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Politics, Law, and Government/Law
  Current Events and Issues/Politics and Government
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How does the American judiciary impact the development of legal and social policies in the United States? How are the state and federal court systems constructed? This book answers these questions and many others regarding politics, the U.S. courts, and society.

This single-volume work provides a comprehensive and contemporary treatment of the historical development of state and federal courts that clearly documents how they have evolved into significant political institutions. It addresses vital and highly relevant subjects such as the constitutional origins of courts, the nature of judicial selection and service, and the organization of courts and their administration. The book explains civil and criminal legal proceedings, the political impact of judicial rulings, and the restraints placed upon the exercise of judicial powers.

Readers will come away with an understanding of the key principles of constitutional interpretation and judicial review as well as judicial independence, what factors affect access to courts, the underlying politics of state judicial campaigns, and the confirmation of presidential appointments to the federal bench. The book covers historical and contemporary court perspectives on major issues, such as same-sex marriage, the Affordable Care Act, campaign financing, gun rights, free speech and religious freedom, racial discrimination, affirmative action, criminal procedure and punishments, property rights, and voting rights.


  • Presents a broad and detailed perspective on law and politics that enables students and laypeople to analyze the judicial process and the role that state and federal courts play in American society
  • Comprehensively surveys the myriad contemporary issues of law and politics that affect the scope and application of social and public policies
  • Supplies selected primary source documents that give readers the opportunity to view key judicial documents firsthand
  • Includes a glossary of terms and annotated bibliography that facilitate a complete comprehension of the organization, structure, and politics of state and federal courts
Author Info

Christopher P. Banks, JD, PhD, is professor of political science at Kent State University. His published work includes Judicial Politics in the D.C. Circuit Court; The Judicial Process: Law, Courts, and Judicial Politics; The U.S. Supreme Court and New Federalism: From the Rehnquist to Roberts Court; Courts and Judicial Policymaking; The Final Arbiter: The Consequences of Bush v. Gore for Law and Politics; and Superintending Democracy: The Courts and the Political Process. Among others, he has published in Justice System Journal, Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Law & Society Review, Terrorism and Political Violence, Judicature, International Journal of Human Rights, Social Science Quarterly, Southeastern Political Review, and The Journal of Law & Politics.



"Providing a succinct, timely overview of the complex U.S. judicial system and its impact on politics and society, this work will appeal to students and public library patrons in need of basic federal and state court information."Library Journal


2017 Best Reference Title — Library Journal

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