New book from Thomas Keck explores judicial review and politics


Thomas Keck, associate professor of political science and Sawyer Chair of Constitutional Law and Politics, is the author of a new book, Judicial Politics in Polarized Times (University of Chicago Press, 2014).

In his book, Keck considers whether judges are neutral legal umpires, unaccountable partisan activists, or political actors whose decisions conform to – rather than challenge – the democratic will.   Carefully examining litigation on highly partisan issues like abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, and gun rights throughout the Clinton, Bush, and Obama presidencies (including the Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act), Keck argues that legal decisions are not politically neutral products, nor are judges “tyrants in robes” who undermine democratic values by imposing their own preferences.  Just as often, he says, judges and the public seem to be pushing in the same direction.  

Keck is the author of The Most Activist Supreme Court in History: The Road to Modern Judicial Conservatism (University of Chicago Press) and a number of academic articles for the “American Political Science Review,” “Law and Society Review,” and “Law and Social Inquiry.”  11/24/14