Judicial Politics

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“… Antonin Scalia’s landmark opinion stands as a glorious monument exemplifying the gains to be
reaped if one is willing to manipulate the law while smugly claiming fidelity to it.” (Collins & Skover, 75).
This quote is, of course, in reference to Justice Scalia’s opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller. (A) To
begin, provide an brief overview of how interpretations of the Second Amendment have changed over
time. What were general attitudes like when United States v. Miller was decided, and what made them
change in the build-up to Heller? [1 paragraph] (B) Kaplan also discusses Justice Thomas’s concurrence in
a 1997 case (Printz v. United States)†, in which he hinted at these changes regarding the Second
Amendment well before the Court decided Heller. Synthesizing Collins and Skovers’ argument with
material from lecture, what are some of the reasons Thomas may have written this concurrence? [1
paragraph] (C) Lastly, Scalia’s opinion in Heller has been both praised and criticized over time. Summarize
the opinions presented in Kaplan’s work and The Judge about Scalia’s opinion: Was Scalia’s opinion a
judicial overreach? Do the authors ultimately reach the same conclusion? Why or why not? Be sure to cite
specific details from both sources to support your argument. [1-2 paragraphs]

2. The Chief Justice has great power in being able to determine who writes the majority opinion, as
demonstrated by Wahlbeck (2006). As discussed previously, justices can (and do) act strategically to advance
their own policy preferences. How does the Chief Justice do this? That is, what does research show the
opinion assigner must consider when assigning the opinion and is this the same across all cases [2
paragraphs]? Once the opinion is assigned, the author of the opinion has to make strategic calculations in
order to have other justices join the opinion. Drafts are circulated between the justices, and the author of the
opinion may incorporate various suggestions, opinions, or other remarks, or choose to ignore them. What do
Wahlbeck, Spriggs, and Maltzman (1998) find? How are accommodations influenced, and how do authors
respond strategically? [1 paragraph]. Using evidence from research and Collins and Skover, when might a
justice give up on the majority and decide to write a separate opinion [1 paragraph]?



https://www.lacba.org/docs/default-source/section-… – Collins & Skover



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