Stepping on congress: Courts, Congress, and interinstitutional politics

Forrest Maltzman, Alyx Mark, Charles R. Shipan, Michael A. Zilis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Legislative enactment is only one step in the life of a law. How a law shapes public life after enactment is frequently the result of whether the judiciary interprets the provisions contained in a law and how courts reconcile provisions within and across laws. But the factors that determine whether the judiciary ends up playing such a role are not well understood. We investigate why the courts, through statutory interpretation, address some major laws but not others and why some laws are addressed soon after enactment, while others are on the books for years before they reach the judicial branch. Our evidence shows that conditions at the time of enactment, plus features of the law, play a major role in determining whether, and when, a law reaches the courts.More specifically, both divided government and disagreement between the two chambers increase the likelihood that the courts will address significant laws.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-240
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Law and Courts
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 by the Law and Courts Organized Section of the American Political Science Association. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Stepping on congress: Courts, Congress, and interinstitutional politics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this