Our spring sale is on! Use promo code SPRING24 at checkout to save 50% on any order!

Administering Justice

Placing the Chief Justice in American State Politics

Subjects: Political Science, American Politics, Judicial Politics
Paperback : 9780472056309, 188 pages, 19 tables, 7 figures, 6 x 9, August 2023
Hardcover : 9780472076307, 188 pages, 19 tables, 7 figures, 6 x 9, August 2023
Open Access : 9780472903696, 188 pages, 19 tables, 7 figures, 6 x 9, August 2023
See expanded detail +

The role and power of state chief justices in and out of the courtroom

Table of contents

List of Tables
List of Figures
Part One:
Chapter One: The Chief Justice as Institution
Chapter Two: The Chief Justice as Individuals
Part Two:
Chapter Three: The Chief Justice as Administrator
Chapter Four: The Chief Justice as Advocate
Chapter Five: The Chief Justice as Politician


Administering Justice examines the leadership role of chief justices in the American states, including how those duties require chief justices to be part of the broader state political environment. Vining and Wilhelm focus extensively on the power of chief justices as public spokespersons, legislative liaisons, and reform leaders. In contrast to much existing research on chief justices in the states, this study weighs their extrajudicial responsibilities rather than intracourt leadership. By assessing the content of State of the Judiciary remarks delivered over a period of sixty years, Vining and Wilhelm are able to analyze the reform agendas advanced by chief justices and determine what factors influence the likelihood of success. These analyses confirm that chief justices engage with state politics in meaningful ways and that reactions to their proposals are influenced by ideological congruence with other political elites and the scope of their requests. Administering Justice also examines the chief justice position as an institution, provides a collective profile of its occupants, and surveys growing diversity among court leaders.

Richard L. Vining Jr. is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Georgia.

Teena Wilhelm is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Georgia.

“Blending incisive theoretical  foundations, impressive original data, and rich descriptive insight, Administering Justice is a tour de force on the role chief justices play in state politics. It is a must-read for anyone interested in courts and state politics, but also offers broader insight into political leadership and institutional performance.”
—Greg Goelzhauser, Utah State University

- Greg Goelzhauser

“Vining and Wilhelm have written a true piece of comparative political research, shedding new light on an understudied topic in American courts—judicial leadership—and leverage the diversity of institutional rules and norms to show how they shape leadership on our state high courts. A must-read for state court scholars.” 
—Mikel A. Norris, Coastal Carolina University

- Mikel A. Norris

“. . . contributes significantly to our understanding of the role chief justices play in state judicial systems, leveraging a mix of rich qualitative examples with larger-n analyses.”
—Eve Ringsmuth, Oklahoma State University

- Eve Ringsmuth

“In a very clear manner, and building upon pertinent existing literature, the authors provide a detailed and comprehensive understanding and picture of the work of chief justices.”
—Gbemende Johnson, University of Georgia

- Gbemende Johnson

"Vining and Wilhelm present an excellent analysis of the importance of chief justices in state politics. The authors should be commended for their contribution to current scholarship because the text contains a wealth of information and is written in an engaging manner. The level of both qualitative descriptive or case study information and quantitative statistical data is outstanding, especially considering how challenging it can be to find in several states. Rated: highly recommended"