From Textbook Pluralism to Modern Hyper-Pluralism: Interest Groups and Supreme Court Nominations, 1930-2017

52 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2018 Last revised: 21 Nov 2018

See all articles by Charles M. Cameron

Charles M. Cameron

Princeton University - Department of Political Science; Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Cody Gray

Independent

Jonathan P. Kastellec

Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Jee-Kwang Park

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Date Written: November 19, 2018

Abstract

The last century witnessed a staggering rise in the number of interest groups active in American politics. While this fact is well known, we lack a comprehensive study of the number of groups, the identity of groups, the timing of their births, their mobilization decisions, and their tactical choices, beginning before the transformation and continuing to the present day. In this paper, we use Supreme Court nominations to conduct precisely such an analysis. Analyzing new data on the 52 nominations from 1930 to 2017, we document a sea change in interest group politics. Prior to the 1970s, nomination politics were characterized by a small number of active groups, infrequent opportunistic mobilization, and somewhat restrained inside-oriented tactics. The 1970s saw a surge in both liberal and conservative groups, while the 1980s saw a continuing surge, largely on the conservative side. Moreover, the types of groups shifted from labor unions, core civil rights groups, and “old right” groups, to public interest, ideological, and identity politics groups. By the late 1980s, nomination politics was characterized by a large number of groups, routine ideologically driven mobilization, and extremely vigorous outside-oriented tactics. In sum, the data show a transformation from relatively genteel pluralism to street-fighting hyper-pluralism.

Suggested Citation

Cameron, Charles M. and Gray, Cody and Kastellec, Jonathan P. and Park, Jee-Kwang, From Textbook Pluralism to Modern Hyper-Pluralism: Interest Groups and Supreme Court Nominations, 1930-2017 (November 19, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3087987 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3087987

Charles M. Cameron

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1013
United States

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

Cody Gray

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Jonathan P. Kastellec (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Fisher Hall
Department of Politics
Princeton, NJ 08544-1012
United States

Jee-Kwang Park

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

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