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I am a political scientist who has a law degree. One of the things I like to do is bring empirical data and use it to illuminate issues on law and courts. Today I want to briefly discuss the concept of the “Activist Court,” which is frequently used as a pejorative term, as in “that activist court (or judge) thwarts the will of the people.” And that’s a mild statement compared to many.  In fact one of my colleagues has a cartoon on her door with the title “Bobby Comes out of the Closet.” The cartoon shows a boy speaking to his obviously shocked parents as he tells them “Mom and Dad, I think I want to be an activist judge.”

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Robert Howard

Robert Howard is currently a political science professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia and the Executive Director of the Southern Political Science Association. Professor Howard received his bachelor’s degree from Union College in Schenectady, New York, earned a law degree from Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts, and a Masters and a PhD in American Politics and Public Law from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. His main research interests are the impact of courts and litigation on social and public policy, and judicial decision making by the Federal Courts. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including Judging Law and Policy: Courts and Policymaking in the American Political System and Getting a Poor Return: Courts, Justice and Taxes.

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