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Arguing Gunwall

The Effect of the Criteria Test on Constitutional Rights Claims

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 October 2022

Richard S. Price*
Weber State University
Contact the author at


Exploring legal development requires more than simply examining the votes of judges because legal development embraces the actions of multiple actors. At a minimum, courts require lawyers to develop and present cases to them for adjudication. While courts need lawyers, lawyers need law; in other words, courts rely on lawyers to develop cases for their review, but the law provided by those courts shapes the actions of lawyers. This article examines the development of state constitutional law by exploring the interactions between lawyers and the Washington Supreme Court after the court required specific briefing practices for state constitutional arguments and the degree to which Washington lawyers responded. Utilizing legal briefs in Washington and some comparative data, I argue that the court was moderately successful at encouraging more thorough constitutional claims. This highlights the importance of considering how lawyers respond to court signals not only in the presence or absence of certain legal arguments but also in the content of those arguments.

Research Article
© 2013 by the Law and Courts Organized Section of the American Political Science Association. All rights reserved.

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I would like to thank Tom Keck, Keith Bybee, David Klein, the anonymous reviewers, and participants at the 2011 APSA meeting for many helpful comments.


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