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Administering Justice: Placing the Chief Justice in American State Politics

by Richard L. Vining, Jr. and Teena Wilhelm

University of Michigan Press, 2023


Paper: 978-0-472-05630-9

Cloth: 978-0-472-07630-7

eISBN: 978-0-472-90369-6

About the Book

Administering Justice examines the leadership role of chief justices in the American states, including how those duties require chief justices to be part of the broader state political environment. Vining and Wilhelm focus extensively on the power of chief justices as public spokespersons, legislative liaisons, and reform leaders. In contrast to much existing research on chief justices in the states, this study weighs their extrajudicial responsibilities rather than intracourt leadership. By assessing the content of State of the Judiciary remarks delivered over a period of sixty years, Vining and Wilhelm are able to analyze the reform agendas advanced by chief justices and determine what factors influence the likelihood of success. These analyses confirm that chief justices engage with state politics in meaningful ways and that reactions to their proposals are influenced by ideological congruence with other political elites and the scope of their requests. Administering Justice also examines the chief justice position as an institution, provides a collective profile of its occupants, and surveys growing diversity among court leaders.

About the Author

Richard L. Vining Jr. is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Georgia.

Teena Wilhelm is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Georgia.

“Blending incisive theoretical  foundations, impressive original data, and rich descriptive insight, Administering Justice is a tour de force on the role chief justices play in state politics. It is a must-read for anyone interested in courts and state politics, but also offers broader insight into political leadership and institutional performance.”
—Greg Goelzhauser, Utah State University
— Greg Goelzhauser

“. . . contributes significantly to our understanding of the role chief justices play in state judicial systems, leveraging a mix of rich qualitative examples with larger-n analyses.”
—Eve Ringsmuth, Oklahoma State University
— Eve Ringsmuth

“Vining and Wilhelm have written a true piece of comparative political research, shedding new light on an understudied topic in American courts—judicial leadership—and leverage the diversity of institutional rules and norms to show how they shape leadership on our state high courts. A must-read for state court scholars.” 
—Mikel A. Norris, Coastal Carolina University
— Mikel A. Norris

“In a very clear manner, and building upon pertinent existing literature, the authors provide a detailed and comprehensive understanding and picture of the work of chief justices.”
—Gbemende Johnson, University of Georgia
— Gbemende Johnson

"Vining and Wilhelm present an excellent analysis of the importance of chief justices in state politics. The authors should be commended for their contribution to current scholarship because the text contains a wealth of information and is written in an engaging manner. The level of both qualitative descriptive or case study information and quantitative statistical data is outstanding, especially considering how challenging it can be to find in several states. Rated: highly recommended"

States, Election, Justice Administration of, Political questions and judicial power, Judicial Power, Selection and appointment, State Provincial & Municipal, Courts of last resort, Chief, Placing, State, American Government, Law, Political Science, United States
Open Access Information

License: CC BY-NC-ND