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Specializing the Courts

Most Americans think that judges should be, and are, generalists who decide a wide array of cases. Nonetheless, we now have specialized courts in many key policy areas. Specializing the Courts provides the first comprehensive analysis of this growing trend toward specialization in the federal and state court systems.

Lawrence Baum incisively explores the scope, causes, and consequences of judicial specialization in four areas that include most specialized courts: foreign policy and national security, criminal law, economic issues involving the government, and economic issues in the private sector. Baum examines the process by which court systems in the United States have become increasingly specialized and the motives that have led to the growth of specialization. He also considers the effects of judicial specialization on the work of the courts by demonstrating that under certain conditions, specialization can and does have fundamental effects on the policies that courts make. For this reason, the movement toward greater specialization constitutes a major change in the judiciary.

296 pages | 11 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2010

Chicago Series in Law and Society

Law and Legal Studies: The Constitution and the Courts

Political Science: American Government and Politics, Judicial Politics


“Lawrence Baum knows how to do it well, and this book is no exception. Crisply written and elegant, with clear documentation, Baum’s work is likely to be just as significant as the trend towards judicial specialization. I can think of no comparable treatment of specialized courts as a whole—so much so that this book may spark an entirely new genre of court studies. Widely appealing not only to scholars in the fields of law, political science, and sociology, but to general readers alike, Specializing the Courts is a landmark treatment of a very important phenomenon, written by a major scholar, encyclopedic in its range and depth. It will be the go-to source on this topic for years to come.”

Charles R. Epp, University of Kansas

Table of Contents

List of Tables

ONE / A First Look at Judicial Specialization
Questions to Address
Extent: The Landscape of Judicial Specialization
Plan of the Book
Appendix: The Scholarship on Judicial Specialization

TWO / Perspectives on Causes and Consequences
Consequences: The Impact of Judicial Specialization
Causes: The Sources of Judicial Specialization
Summing Up and Looking Ahead
Appendix: Research Strategy

THREE / Foreign Policy and Internal Security
Overseas Courts
Military Justice
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts
The Removal Court

FOUR / Criminal Cases
Promoting Efficiency
Occasional Efforts to Attack Crime with Sanctions
Socialized Courts in the Progressive Era
Problem-solving Courts of the Current Era

FIVE / Economic Issues: Government Litigation

SIX / Economic Issues: Private Litigation
Corporate Governance: The Delaware Courts
Business Courts

SEVEN / Putting the Pieces Together
The Causes of Specialization
The Consequences of Specialization
Evaluating Judicial Specialization
The Future of Judicial Specialization


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