Continuity and Change on the United States Courts of Appeals

Donald R. Songer, Reginald S. Sheehan, and Susan B. Haire
The first comprehensive examination of the shifting role of the Courts of Appeals


While many fine works of scholarship examine the role of the Supreme Court in American politics, there has been a dearth of scholarly books that focus on the Courts of Appeals. Continuity and Change on the United States Courts of Appeals is unique both in its focus on this level of the judiciary and its approach that examines major trends over the twentieth century. Since the Supreme Court has the discretion to refuse to hear almost all cases appealed to it, the Courts of Appeals are usually the final option for litigants in the federal system. Unless overturned by the Supreme Court or, in cases decided on the basis of statute, by Congressional action, the rulings can have a significant impact on government policy.

The authors present the first comprehensive examination of the shifting role of the Courts of Appeals, investigating changes over time and presenting the first systematic analyses of those changes. Their work is the first book to utilize the database of the U.S. Courts of Appeals, analyzing over 15,000 cases to examine trends between 1925 and 1988. The book answers questions such as who are the judges? What are their decisional tendencies? What has been the role of region and partisan politics? Who are the litigants? And who has won and who has lost throughout the twentieth century? It is the only current, up-to-date book on the Courts of Appeals and an essential read for all scholars and students interested in American politics and judicial behavior.

Donald R. Songer is Professor of Political Science, University of South Carolina.

Reginald S. Sheehan is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Program for Law and Juridical Politics, Michigan State University.

Susan B. Haire is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Georgia.

Praise / Awards

  • "This is the most comprehensive picture to date of the courts of appeals. The statistical material is presented clearly and simply."
    —P. Lermack, CHOICE, September 2001
  • "This book makes a significant contribution to the literature on the U.S. Court of Appeals."
    —Isaac Unah, Journal of Politics, Volume 64, No. 1 (2002)
  • "The publication of Continuity and Change on the United States Courts of Appealsis a reason for celebration. . . . Donald Songer, Reginald Sheehan and Susan Haire provide an immensely useful account of the nature and role of the circuit courts in the 20th century. . . . This book represents a major contribution to our understanding of the federal courts of appeals. . . . [The book] covers so much new territory in such an admirable way that the reader cannot help but long for even more from the authors."
    —Jason Mazzone, Judicature, July-August 2001
  • "The book's findings . . . are not only an important affirmation of what we know about circuit courts, but they also are the first step in giving us some different longitudinal perspectives that allows [sic] for comprehending their present significance and, perhaps, what their role might be in the twenty-first century."
    —Christopher P. Banks, University of Akron, Law and Politics Book Review, January 2001

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 200pp.
  • 15 drawings, 33 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2000
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11158-9

Add to Cart
  • $84.95 U.S.