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Inherent powers consist of all powers reasonably required to enable a court to perform efficiently its judicial functions, to protect its dignity, independence, and integrity, and to make its lawful actions effective. The many contexts in which courts have asserted inherent powers include the authorization of rulemaking by the judicial branch, the governance and discipline of the bar by state courts of last resort, and the sanctioning of attorneys by trial lawyers in the course of managing caseflow. While inherent powers can be constrained by constitutional provisions, state and federal judges likewise have enjoyed greater receptivity from the legal profession to assertions of court authority in caseflow management than have their counterparts in other common law nations.
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The authors’ study examines how much discretion Congress provides in statutes it enacts into law. Their basic argument is that ideological decision making by the Supreme Court justices depends upon the level of discretion Congress incorporates into the law. The greater the discretion, the less constraint federal judges and justices will encounter, making them more likely to vote according to their individual ideologies. Conversely, more detailed statutes will reduce the judges’ discretion. Using data on 1953-1996 Supreme Court decisions, our analysis supports this model of contingent discretion.
This title is a significant contribution due to its exploration of the development and importance of judicial independence within a separation-of-powers framework.