Pickerill, J. Mitchell
M.A. (Master of Arts)
Department of Political Science
United States--Study and teaching; Political science; Law; Sociology
This study analyzes when and under what conditions the Supreme Court can produce lasting social change. By re-examine Gerald Rosenberg's theory and finding that the Court is too constitutionally constrained to produce change, I argue that the Supreme Court can establish lasting social change. Lasting social change is established through landmark rulings on substantive rights when those issues first have the time to percolate in the states and build the public support necessary to implement the Court's ruling. To test this theory, I analyze two landmark Court rulings. First, I examine the right to abortion in Roe v. Wade (1973) where the Supreme Court lead the constitutional debate, and second the right to same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) as a counterfactual, as the Supreme Court ruling followed the constitutional debate. These cases are analyzed in conjunction with public opinion trends to understand how state constitutional debate contributes to public approval of the right at issue. Based on the analysis, the Supreme Court can establish lasting social change when handing down landmark rulings after the constitutional and political debate has already occurred at the state level.
Gradecki, Kaitlyn, "The states, the Supreme Court, and social change : an analysis of Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges" (2017). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 6317.
iii, 59 pages
Northern Illinois University
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