We are now more than half a century removed from height of the rights revolution, a time when the federal government significantly increased legal protection for disadvantaged individuals and groups, leading...Read more
We are now more than half a century removed from height of the rights revolution, a time when the federal government significantly increased legal protection for disadvantaged individuals and groups, leading in the process to a dramatic expansion in access to courts and judicial authority to oversee these protections. Yet while the majority of the landmark laws and legal precedents expanding access to justice remain intact, less than two percent of civil cases are decided by a trial today. What explains this phenomenon, and why it is so difficult to get one's day in court? No Day in Court examines the sustained efforts of political and legal actors to scale back access to the courts in the decades since it was expanded, largely in the service of the rights revolution of the 1950s and 1960s. Since that time, for political, ideological, and practical reasons, a multifaceted group of actors have attempted to diminish the role that courts play in American politics.
Although the conventional narrative of backlash focuses on an increasingly conservative Supreme Court trying to gut the developments of the New Deal and Civil Rights eras, and of conservative activists mobilizing to pressure Congress to do the same, there is another very important element to this story, in which access to the courts for rights claims has been scaled back by efforts that target the 'rules of the game,' the institutional and legal procedures that govern what constitutes a valid legal case, who can be sued, how a case is adjudicated, and what remedies are available through courts. These more hidden, procedural changes are pursued by far more than just conservatives, and they often go overlooked. No Day in Court explores the politics of these strategies and the effect that they have today for access to justice in the U.S. Read less
About the author: Sarah Staszak
Sarah Staszak is a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at Harvard University and an Assistant Professor in Political Science at The City... Read more
Sarah Staszak is a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at Harvard University and an Assistant Professor in Political Science at The City College of New York-CUNY. She teaches and writes on public law, policy, legal institutions, and American political development. Read less
No Day in Court explores one of the central, if largely unknown, legal developments in recent history: the increasing inability of individuals to go to court to vindicate their rights. Staszak...Read more
No Day in Court explores one of the central, if largely unknown, legal developments in recent history: the increasing inability of individuals to go to court to vindicate their rights. Staszak shows how procedural and administrative rules have been purposefully rewritten to favor corporate and other defendants over the rights of prospective plaintiffs. An important and timely book. Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Oath and The Nine One of the most important stories about America's civil rights revolution has been the story of retrenchment-how rights guarantees have been systematically limited by procedural reforms that restrict judicial remedies. Sarah Staszak shows how both supporters and opponents of the rights revolution have been complicit in rationing and blocking access to the courts. If you want to understand what happened to the promise of civil rights in this country, read this book. Jack M. Balkin, Yale Law School For the less advantaged, DeTocqueville's observation that in America every political issue becomes a judicial one may no longer be true. In a work of admirable breadth, Sarah Staszak shows that a congeries of organizations and movements have collaborated to reduce access to courts. After time well spent with Staszak's cogent argument, readers will never view alternative dispute resolution, administrative rulings, state sovereign immunity and attorney's fees quite the same way. Daniel Carpenter, Harvard University A fascinating book that provides great insight into the politics of retrenchment. Staszak shows convincingly that scholars need to pay more careful attention to the hidden world of procedural rules that shape the capacities of judges to make policy. This is a highly original study that enriches understanding of how political processes shape the role of the courts. George Lovell, University of Washington No Day in Court is a major statement, and promises to open up a new area of scholarship. It is a book loaded with penetrating insights, elegant writing, and historical depth, and most importantly, provides powerful theoretical tools for understanding judicial retrenchment-a phenomenon that is a key part of American history but more than ever characterizes our present political environment. John D. Skrentny, University of California, San Diego Read less