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Decision Making in the Supreme Court

  • Word Count: 1117
  • Approx Pages: 4

The most important thing to understand about the Supreme Court is why the Court reaches the decisions that it hands down. In understanding this you must first be aware of several factors. These factors include the role of the law in decision making, how justices’ values effect their voting, how group interaction affects the court’s final decision, the affect of external influences, and the role of ideology.
First of all, there are four models constructed by political scientists to explain the court’s decision-making. These four models are the legal model, the attitudinal model, the collegial game model, and the strategic model. The legal model postulates that “the decisions of the Court are based on the facts of the case in light of the plain meaning of statutes and the Constitution, the intent of framers, the precedent, and a balancing of societal interests” (Segal and Spaeth 1993, 32). The attitudinal model “holds that the Supreme Court decides disputes in light of the facts of the cases vis-a-vie the ideological attitudes and values of the justices” (Segal and Spaeth 1993, 65). The collegial game model contends that “justices will try to secure opinions that are as close as possible to their policy positions by basing their decisions in part upon the positions and actions of their colleagues” (MSW 2000, 19-20). The strategic model illustrates the strategic account of judicial decision making compromises into three main ideas. These three main ideas are that a justice’s actions are directed toward the attainment of goals, justices are strategic, and institutions structure justices’ interaction” (Epstein and Knight 1998, 10-11).
Next, it is evident that the job of the Supreme Court is to interpret law. This makes the role of the justice very different from that of a legislator. The law is a good area to begin with in explaining the decision making process of justices. There are two realitie...

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