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The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court

Thirteenth Edition

October 2018 | 280 pages | CQ Press

Connecting recent events to their effects on the courts, policy, and society, the Thirteenth Edition of The Supreme Court provides a brief yet comprehensive introduction to the U.S. Supreme Court. In successive chapters, the book examines major aspects of the Court, including

  • the selection, backgrounds, and departures of justices; 
  • the creation of the Court's agenda; 
  • the decision-making process and the factors that shape the Court's decisions; 
  • the substance of the Court's policies; 
  • and the Court's impact on government and American society. 

Delving deeply into personalities and procedures, author Lawrence Baum provides a balanced explanation of the Court’s actions and the behavior of its justices as he reveals its complexity, reach, and influence. Updated with the most recent data displayed in a lively photo program, the new edition of this bestseller is one of the most engaging books on this subject available. 

Tables, Figures, and Boxes
About the Author
CHAPTER 1. The Court
A Perspective on the Court  
The Court in the Judicial System  
An Overview of the Court  
Historical Developments  
CHAPTER 2. The Justices
The Selection of Justices  
Who Is Selected  
Leaving the Court  
CHAPTER 3. The Cases
Reaching the Court: Litigants, Attorneys, and Interest Groups  
Deciding What to Hear: The Court’s Role  
CHAPTER 4. Decision Making
Components of the Court’s Decision  
The Decision-Making Process  
Influences on Decisions: Introduction  
The State of the Law  
Justices’ Values  
Group Interaction  
The Court’s Environment  
CHAPTER 5. Policy Outputs
Areas of Activity: What the Court Addresses  
The Court’s Activism  
The Content of Policy  
Explaining the Court’s Policies  
CHAPTER 6. The Court’s Impact
Outcomes for the Litigants  
Implementation of Supreme Court Policies  
Responses by Legislatures and Chief Executives  
Impact on Society  
Conclusion: The Court, Public Policy, and Society  
Glossary of Legal Terms
Selected Bibliography
Sources on the Web
Case Index
Key features


  • Extensive attention to the growing impact of political polarization on the Court, including the long battle over appointment of a justice to succeed Antonin Scalia in 2016 and 2017, emphasize how the confirmation process has changed since the turn of the century. 
  • New tables and figures highlight important aspects of the Court, such as the frequent public appearances made by the current justices, the kinds of litigants that have cases in the Court, the Court's overruling of its prior decisions, and congressional proposal of constitutional decisions to override the Court's decisions.
  • New case studies discuss the implementation and impact of the Court's decisions on same-sex marriage, capital punishment, and labor-management relations.
  • The introduction to the analysis of influences on the Court's decisions (Chapter 4) focuses on scholars' competing theories of decision-making.



  • Examines all major aspects of the Court, from the selection of justices and agenda creation to the decision-making process and the Court’s impact on government and U.S. society
  • Tables, figures, boxes, and photos illustrate and illuminate key points
  • Glossary of legal terms and case index provides useful reference tools for students.

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