The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change? (American Politics and Political Economy Series)

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9780226727028: The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change? (American Politics and Political Economy Series)

Liberals have acclaimed, and conservatives decried, reliance on courts as tools for changes. But while debate rages over whether the courts should be playing such a legislative role, Gerald N. Rosenberg poses a far more fundamental question—can courts produce political and social reform?

Rosenberg presents, with remarkable skill, an overwhelming case that efforts to use the courts to generate significant reforms in civil rights, abortion, and women's rights were largely failures.

"The real strength of The Hollow Hope . . . is its resuscitation of American Politics—the old-fashioned representative kind—as a valid instrument of social change. Indeed, the flip side of Mr. Rosenberg's argument that courts don't do all that much is the refreshing view that politics in the best sense of the word—as deliberation and choice over economic and social changes, as well as over moral issues—is still the core of what makes America the great nation it is. . . . A book worth reading."—Gary L. McDowell, The Washington Times

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From Publishers Weekly:

Efforts by civil rights, women's rights and pro-abortion activists to use the courts to produce progressive social change have largely been failures, maintains Rosenberg. Focusing on the historic 1954 Brown decision on school desegregation, on Roe v. Wade , upholding women's right to abortion, and on other Supreme Court cases, this University of Chicago political scientist argues that such decisions actually had little effect in generating positive change, partly because the judiciary has no powers of implementation. Rosenberg views the courts as "fly-paper for social reformers who succumb to 'the lure of litigation.' " and who, in so doing, siphon off crucial movement resources while mistaking symbolic victories for substantive ones. In a concluding section, the author finds that activists' judicial victories with regard to the environment, criminal rights and reapportionment of state legislatures have been equally hollow. His strained analysis runs counter to accepted wisdom and to scholarship.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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