Wisconsin Law Review, University of Wisconsin
January 1, 2013
Studies the way the law is used as a catalyst for social policy reforms and political change. Concludes that large scale political change is difficult to establish, even with the courts and legislative action.
Wisconsin Law Review, Volume 2013, No. 1
Cummings studies the way the law is used as a catalyst for social policy reforms and political change. His essay focuses on three main concepts for this.
First, he discusses a framework for the themes and boundaries of empirical legal and social change. While not advocating for a particular framework, Cummings encourages the reader to consider how different social constructs fit together to work within the law and create political reform. He compares and contrasts the difference between the traditional political movements and the modern interest groups, and shows how the lawyers involved in the modern interest groups hold an advantage over the traditional political movements.
Second, Cummings discusses how and why law is used as a tool for political change. Until now, it has been generally accepted that a group will feel underrepresented or deliberately shut out of the political process and will instead take the issue to a court to establish their position and involvement in the issue. Cummings challenges this view, and states that groups today will use both the political process and the court system to work together for their cause.
Lastly, Cummings compares the varying methods to study the effects of these political and legal movements. He points to multiple starting points from which to judge the success of a political effort. Whether there was both litigation and legislation involved, whether the campaign worked, and whether the change brought about was small scale or large and redefining in politics. Also considered is whether the mobilization of the law even produced positive outcomes at all. Occasionally, the involvement of the courts creates a public backlash that can set a group back, such as with Prop 8 in California.
In conclusion, Cummings establishes that large scale political change is difficult to establish, even with the courts and legislative action. This is in part because there are groups that represent each side of a political argument and they are each prepared to fight for it. He discusses how there is still some question over whether the sudden political shift in Brown v. Board of Education may have hampered a genuine movement for civil rights by being too forceful and too fast.
PUBLICATION DETAILSFormat: Research
Publication Type: Journal Article
Geographic coverage, US: NATIONAL
Topics: Measurement | Social Change | Systemic Litigation
How Provided: Courts
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Site Editing Notes:
Date is 2013, but not Jan 1. Need research exact date.