Defenders of Liberty or Champions of Security?

Federal Courts, the Hierarchy of Justice, and U.S. Foreign Policy

By Kirk A. Randazzo

Subjects: Political Science, Constitutional Studies, Judicial Administration, Democracy, American Government
Series: SUNY series in American Constitutionalism
Paperback : 9781438430485, 138 pages, January 2011
Hardcover : 9781438430478, 138 pages, March 2010

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Table of contents

List of Figures
List of Tables

A Historical Look at the Federal Courts and U. S. Foreign Policy
The Scope of the Project
Organization of the Book

1. Theoretical Foundations
Definitions of U. S. Foreign Policy
Types of Foreign Policy Cases Adjudicated in Federal Courts
Constitutional/Legal Theories
International Relations/Foreign Policy Theories
Theories of Judicial Politics

2. Individual Examinations
The Paradox of Foreign Affairs Litigation
Theoretical Expectations
Research Design and Methods
Empirical Results

3. The Hierarchy of Justice and the Courts of Appeals
Historical Development of the Federal Judiciary
Theories of Judicial Compliance and Structural Hierarchies
Formal Model of Appeals Court Decision Making
Research Design and Methods
Empirical Results

4. The Hierarchy of Justice and the District Courts
Historical Development of the District Courts
Policy Making in a Judicial Hierarchy
Formal Model of District Court Decision Making
Research Design and Methods
Empirical Results

5. Defenders of Liberty or Champions of Security?
Analytical Contributions
Civil Liberties Protection in a Post-September 11 Environment
Quantitative Analysis of Lower Courts
Qualitative Analysis of the Supreme Court

Appendix One: Coding Rules
Appendix Two: Litigant Codes
Appendix Three: Issue Codes

Examines the critical role assumed by the U. S. judiciary in balancing concerns about national security with the protection of liberty after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.


The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent responses by the U. S. federal government have raised fundamental questions about civil liberties in both domestic and international laws. As a result, the U. S. judiciary, out of its responsibility for interpreting the Constitution, has assumed a crucial role in defining boundaries of domestic and foreign policy, and in balancing concerns about security with the protection of liberty. Utilizing a sophisticated blend of quantitative and qualitative analysis, Kirk A. Randazzo examines two main questions: To what extent do federal judges defend liberty or champion security when adjudicating disputes? And to what extent does the hierarchal structure of the federal judiciary influence decisions by lower court judges? There are, he argues, disturbing indications that the federal judiciary as a whole are not defenders of liberty. Furthermore, lower court judges strategically anticipate the decisions of higher courts and constrain their behavior to avoid reversal.

Kirk A. Randazzo is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of South Carolina.


"This book provides a valuable insight into the decision making of US federal judges on foreign policy issues … [and] is a good starting point for further work on interactive judicial decision making. " — Political Studies Review