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The Battle for the Court

Interest Groups, Judicial Elections, and Public Policy
Lawrence Baum, David Klein, and Matthew J. Streb

BUY Cloth · 184 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813940342 · $45.00 · Oct 2017
BUY Ebook · 184 pp. · ISBN 9780813940359 · $45.00 · Oct 2017

Once largely ignored, judicial elections in the states have become increasingly controversial over the past two decades. Legal organizations, prominent law professors, and a retired Supreme Court justice have advocated the elimination of elections as a means to choose judges. One of their primary concerns is interest group involvement in elections to state supreme courts, which they see as having negative effects on both the courts themselves and public perceptions of these judicial bodies.

In The Battle for the Court, Lawrence Baum, David Klein, and Matthew Streb present a systematic investigation into the effects of interest group involvement in the election of judges. Focusing on personal-injury law, the issue that has played the most substantial role in spurring interest group activity in judicial elections, the authors detail how interest groups mobilize in response to unfavorable rulings by state supreme courts, how their efforts influence the outcomes of supreme court elections, and how those outcomes in turn effectively reshape public policies. The authors employ several decades’ worth of new data on campaign activity, voter behavior, and judicial policy-making in one particularly colorful, important, and representative state—Ohio—to explore these connections among interest groups, elections, and judicial policy in a way that has not been possible until now.


This fascinating study explores some of the most significant consequences of supreme court elections in Ohio, the epicenter of new-style judicial campaigns. The primary focus on state tort liability law is unique, and the range of data examined is extraordinary. Especially innovative is a rigorous new methodology for measuring the impact of membership change brought about by elections. This well written book from three of the discipline’s best scholars makes vitally important contributions to the study of law and judicial politics, elections, interest groups, and numerous other subfields of political science and thus merits serious attention from scholars, practitioners, and the public.

Melinda Gann Hall, Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University, is the author of Attacking Judges: How Campaign Advertising Influences State Supreme Court Elections

About the Author: 

Lawrence Baum is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Ohio State University and the author of Specializing the Courts. David Klein is Professor and Head of Political Science at Eastern Michigan University and the author of Making Law in the United States Courts of Appeals. Matthew J. Streb is Professor of Political Science at Northern Illinois University and the author of Rethinking American Electoral Democracy.

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