The U.S. Supreme Court is the quintessential example of a court that expanded its agenda into policy areas that were once reserved for legislatures. Yet, scholars kw very little about what causes attention to various policy areas to ebb and flow on the Supreme Court's agenda. Vanessa A. Baird's Answering the Call of the Court: How Justices and Litigants Set the Supreme Court Agenda represents the first scholarly attempt to connect justices' priorities, litigants' strategies, and aggregate policy outputs of the U.S. Supreme Court.Most previous studies of the Supreme Court's agenda examine case selection, but Baird demonstrates that the agenda-setting process begins long before justices choose which cases they will hear. When justices signal their interest in a particular policy area, litigants respond by sponsoring well-crafted cases in those policy areas. Approximately four to five years later, the Supreme Court's agenda in those areas expands, with cases that are comparatively more politically important and divisive than other cases the Court hears. From issues of discrimination and free expression to welfare policy, from immigration to ecomic regulation, strategic supporters of litigation pay attention to the goals of Supreme Court justices and bring cases that can be used to achieve those goals.
Vanessa A. Baird is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Colorado.