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Congressional Attacks on the Supreme Court: A Mechanism to Maintain, Build, and Consolidate

  • Dave Bridge and Curt Nichols

Abstract

Reexamination and reinterpretation of the “mature” (1955–1984) New Deal era of congressional attacks on the Supreme Court reveals a new hypothesis: that Court‐curbing efforts played a previously unrecognized role in party system development. Court rulings that create inter‐ and intraparty tension provide opportunities for various actors to attack the Court in an effort to solidify their faction's standing within national coalitional politics. Congressional attackers can use Court‐curbing resolutions and amendments in efforts to help them maintain coalitional cohesion, build a new majority, or consolidate previous victories. Thus, we might see legislative‐judicial relations as an unrecognized “site” of political development, where coalitional change is opposed and wrought.

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