Oral Arguments and Coalition Formation on the U.S. Supreme Court
A Deliberate Dialogue
Oral arguments are a key aspect of the Supreme Court's decision-making process
The U.S. Supreme Court, with its controlled, highly institutionalized decision-making practices, provides an ideal environment for studying coalition formation. The process begins during the oral argument stage, which provides the justices with their first opportunity to hear one another's attitudes and concerns specific to a case. This information gathering allows them eventually to form a coalition.
In order to uncover the workings of this process, the authors analyze oral argument transcripts from every case decided from 1998 through 2007 as well as the complete collection of notes kept during oral arguments by Justice Lewis F. Powell and Justice Harry A. Blackmun. Both justices clearly monitored their fellow justices' participation in the discussion and used their observations to craft opinions their colleagues would be likely to support. This study represents a major step forward in the understanding of coalition formation, which is a crucial aspect of many areas of political debate and decision making.
Praise / Awards
"This book presents highly original research that couples new data with novel arguments. I really enjoyed reading it and was provoked into thinking much more about the role of oral argument than I have in the past."
—Tom Hansford, University of California, Merced
"This book is a wonderful addition to the current literature on both the oral argument and coalition formation processes at the U.S. Supreme Court. It is of scholarly importance, well-written, and a fun read."
—Artemus Ward, Northern Illinois University
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