Between Law and Politics
The Solicitor General and the Structuring of Race, Gender, and Reproductive Rights Litigation
Political Science - Presidential Studies
6.125 x 9.25, 342 pp.
14 tables., 13 figs.
Pub Date: 03/04/2003
Joseph V. Hughes Jr. and Holly O. Hughes Series on the Presidency and Leadership
  cloth
Price:        $50.00 s

978-1-58544-234-8

Published by Texas A&M University Press

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Between Law and Politics

The Solicitor General and the Structuring of Race, Gender, and Reproductive Rights Litigation

By Richard Jr. Pacelle

At the intersection of law and politics stands the U.S. Solicitor General. Although even the informed public rarely thinks of the solicitor general in relation to the major issues that have challenged American society, this office actually has considerable control over the cases the Supreme Court addresses. To bring the Office of Solicitor General (OSG) out of the shadows and into the clear light of public attention, Between Law and Politics looks at three hotly contested policy areas—race, gender, and reproductive rights—to see how the office balances the goals of the president, Congress, and the Supreme Court.

The OSG is charged with helping the Supreme Court build a coherent doctrine and imposing some stability on the law. At the same time, the solicitor general is a presidential appointee. Deciding which cases to appeal, arguing those cases before the Supreme Court, and filing friendofthecourt briefs means the solicitor general plays an important role in furthering the policy objections of the current administration. Therein lies the tension between law and politics that is at the heart of the calculations the solicitor general makes on a daily basis.

Using interviews with solicitors general and their staffs, members of the Department of Justice, and others, and analyzing Supreme Court cases beginning with the Truman administration, Richard Pacelle shows how the OSG balances the competing forces in its environment. His analysis is undergirded by aggregate analysis of the data gathered.

This detailed and systematic study will be of great interest to those who study the Supreme Court, the presidency, and public policy. It is unique in its close examination of a number of particular areas of law and the strength and persuasiveness of its analysis of the competing constituencies that face the Office of the Solicitor General. The timeliness and controversial nature of the policy areas Pacelle examines give the book further importance to students of American politics.

Richard Pacelle is an associate professor of political science and legal studies coordinator at the University of Missouri—Saint Louis. A specialist in judicial politics, he has authored two books and a number of articles on the U.S. Supreme Court. He holds a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.

What Readers Are Saying:

“A clear and fascinating exploration of the Office of the Solicitor General told through an examination of the engagement of the SG in three of society’s most controversial issues — civil rights, gender equality, and reproductive rights. . . this book will have a broad audience among scholars of public law within the discipline, an audience brought to the book by the strength and persuasiveness of its analysis and the familiarity of its approach. In particular, the interviews with former SG’s are terrific and used to great effect. Both strength of the underlying research and the clarity of the writing make the book a very interesting read.”--Austin Sarat

“A clear and fascinating exploration of the Office of the Solicitor General told through an examination of the engagement of the SG in three of society’s most controversial issues — civil rights, gender equality, and reproductive rights. . . this book will have a broad audience among scholars of public law within the discipline, an audience brought to the book by the strength and persuasiveness of its analysis and the familiarity of its approach. In particular, the interviews with former SG’s are terrific and used to great effect. Both strength of the underlying research and the clarity of the writing make the book a very interesting read.” --Austin Sarat

“An insightful and valuable analysis that explains how the Solicitor General influences public law and navigates in what Pacelle calls the ‘sea of politics.’” --Louis Fisher

“Pacelle has done the public a great service by explaining in clear terms and interesting writing, this important office.” --Mexia Daily News

“Readable, well organized, and informative; it is a first-rate example of academic writing. This text should be studied by students not only for its content but also for Pacelle’s ability to organize information creatively and clearly.” --Perspectives on Political Science

“Political scientist Richard L. Pacelle, Jr., brings overdue attention to the office of solicitor general in this engaging, well-researched book” --American Historical Review

“Pacelle also provides an interesting framework for understanding varying OSG roles...” --American Historical Review

“...the insider accounts are also often fascinating..” --American Historical Review

“This clearly written and informative book’s greatest contributions ay be its explication of the OSG’s working in the latter half of the twentieth century, which should interest historians studying any legal issues, and its insights into the ‘black box’ of the state during a tumultuous period of rights development and retrenchment.” --American Historical Review

“This book is an important contribution to scholarship on the federal administration of justice because it takes seriously the interconnections of politics and law. . . in this and many other respects Pacelle’s substantial book gives us a basis for thinking further about how law works in practice and how we can understand it.” --The Law and Politics Book Review

“Pacelle’s book represents a major contribution to our continued effort to understand how the solicitor general’s office really works, and what implications those working have for our policy.” --The Review of Politics

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