The Politics of the Courts

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The chapter examines how President Trump’s approach to the federal court system and especially the Supreme Court has had a profound impact on their role in the American political system. It highlights how his ability to fill a large number of vacancies, including three Supreme Court seats, by defying normal conventions will shape the composition of the courts for many years to come. The chapter argues that the Trump administration’s highly partisan treatment both of judicial appointments and its interventions in legal disputes has altered the culture in which the legal system operates. This approach has meant that the public perception of the legal system is increasingly politicised, thus undermining the legitimacy of the judiciary and constitutional interpretation. The chapter provides a careful overview of recent Supreme Court decisions to illustrate both its changing agenda and the impact of its changed composition. The chapter also explores the impact of Trump’s appointments to the lower federal courts and assesses proposals for reform of the judicial appointments process.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDevelopments in American Politics 9
EditorsGillian Peele, Bruce Cain, Andrew Wroe, Jon Herbert
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-89740-6
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-89739-0
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2022


  • Amy Coney Barrett
  • Biden
  • Brett Kavanaugh
  • Federal judiciary
  • Judicial appointments
  • Neil Gorsuch
  • Roe v Wade
  • Supreme Court
  • Trump

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