The Judicial System
A Reference Handbook
by Michael C. LeMay
May 2022, 381pp, 6x9
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7457-4
$65, £50, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7458-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

According to Gallup polling, public approval of the performance of the U.S. Supreme Court declined by 13 points—from 62% approval to 49% approval—from 2000 to 2021.

The Judicial System: A Reference Handbook provides an authoritative and accessible one-stop resource for understanding the U.S. judicial system and its place in the fabric of American government and society.

The American judicial system plays a central role in setting and enforcing the legal rules under which the people of the United States live. U.S. courts and laws, though, are complex and often criticized for bias and other alleged shortcomings, The U.S. Supreme Court has emerged as a particular focal point of political partisanship and controversy, both in terms of the legal decisions it hands down and the makeup of its membership.

Like other books in the Contemporary World Issues series, this volume comprises seven chapters. Chapter 1 presents the origins, development, and current characteristics of the American judicial system. Chapter 2 discusses problems and controversies orbiting around the U.S. justice system today. Chapter 3 features a wide-ranging collection of essays that examine and illuminate various aspects of the judicial system. Chapter 4 profiles influential organizations and people related to the justice system, and Chapter 5 offers relevant data and documents about U.S. courts. Chapter 6 is composed of an annotated list of important resources, while Chapter 7 offers a useful chronology of events.


  • Explains the responsibilities and authority of the United States' many different types of courts and how they fit together
  • Explores major controversies surrounding the U.S. judicial system, including politicization of the courts and bias in the criminal justice system
  • Provides wide-ranging perspectives on the judicial system from reformers, court employees, and scholars
  • Provides a comprehensive annotated list of resources for further reading and research
Michael C. LeMay, PhD, is professor emeritus of political science at California State University, San Bernardino. He is author of more than 30 books on American politics and society, including more than a dozen on the topic of U.S. immigration history and policy.

Contemporary World Issues

This award-winning series offers comprehensive, one-volume reference handbooks on important topics related to health, education, the environment, and social and ethical issues.

24-hour cable news. Millions of internet sites. Information overload. How can we sort through the information? Assess the analyses? Trust the sources?

A world of questions demands a library of answers. Contemporary World Issues covers the controversial topics that students, readers, and citizens want to read about, write about, and know more about.


Subject coverage spans six main categories:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Environment
  • Gender and Ethnicity
  • Politics, Law, and Government
  • Science, Technology, and Medicine
  • Society
Each volume offers a rich array of resources:
  • A background and history essay that provides essential context and grounding for further study
  • A balanced summary of ongoing controversies and proposed solutions that show numerous paths for further research on pressing, contemporary questions
  • A forum of authoritative perspective essays by experts, offering a broad spectrum of arguments on the issues
  • Carefully selected annotated documents, tables, and graphs that support statistical literacy and investigation of primary sources
  • A chronology of events, legislation, and movements that place events in sequence and draw connections between them
  • Annotated lists of print, web, and multimedia resources that power the next steps for in-depth research
  • Profiles of key players and organizations
  • A glossary of key terms
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