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The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court

Fourteenth Edition

March 2021 | 280 pages | CQ Press
In The Supreme Court, Lawrence Baum provides a brief yet comprehensive introduction to the U.S. Supreme Court, one that is balanced and illuminating. In successive chapters, the book examines each major aspect of the Court: 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. Describing the Court's personalities and procedures, and delving deeply to explain the actions of the Court and the behavior of justices, Baum shows students the Court's complexity and reach. Tables and figures, plus a lively photo program, make this one of the most engaging books available. It is simply the standard.

Tables, Figures, and Boxes
About the Author
CHAPTER 1. The Court
A Perspective on the Court

The Court in the Judicial System

The Court as an Institution

What the Justices Do

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

"Provides a more in-depth look at the Supreme Court beyond that of the typical American Government textbook."

Michelle Belco
University of Houston Honors College

"This text is essential for my ability to teach a course specifically on SCOTUS in any meaningful way."

Hans J. Hacker
Arkansas State University, Jonesboro
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.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1. The Court

Chapter 2. The Justices

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781544390130

ISBN: 9781544390109