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Another Voice For The 'Dialogue': Federal Courts As A Litigation Course, Arthur D. Hellman Jan 2009

Another Voice For The 'Dialogue': Federal Courts As A Litigation Course, Arthur D. Hellman

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The traditional course in "Federal Courts" - built on the model established by the great Hart and Wechsler casebook - focuses on issues of federalism, separation of powers, and institutional competence. That focus provides a powerful intellectual model for organizing the materials that make up the field of study, and it is hard to imagine anyone teaching a Federal Courts course today without drawing heavily on that model. But the traditional model is deficient in one important respect. Most of the students who take a Federal Courts course do so because they think it will help them to practice law …


Judicial Activism: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, Arthur D. Hellman Jan 2002

Judicial Activism: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, Arthur D. Hellman

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No matter how judges are selected, sooner or later some unfortunate candidate will be labeled a "judicial activist." One has to wonder: Does the term have any identifiable core meaning? Or is it just an all-purpose term of opprobrium, reflecting whatever brand of judicial behavior the speaker regards as particularly pernicious? Implicit in this question are several important issues about the role of courts in our democratic society.

I take my definition from Judge Richard Posner, who describes activist decisions as those that expand judicial power over other branches of the national government or over state governments. Unlike other uses …