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Federalism still matters

Table of contents

List of Tables
List of Figures
List of Appendices
1. Literature Review and Theory
The Impact of Rosenberg’s The Hollow Hope
Rosenburg’s Theory as a Set of Testable Hypotheses
Elazar’s Political Culture Theory
2. Research Design and Methods
Rosenburg’s Methodology
Nationwide Statistical Analysis
Descriptive Statistics
Case Study Choice
3. Testing of the Dynamic and Constrained Court Theories
Court Action
Was there Ample Legal Precedent Prior to Heller and McDonald as Per the Constrained Court Theory?
4. Support from the Legislature and the Executive
Presidential Support a Must for the Constrained Court Theory
Controlling the Courts: The End of the Gun Tort Litigation and the Appointment Process Brings the Courts in Line
Discussion: Road to Heller and McDonald
Hypothesis H2 is Supported
5. Public Support
Public Support Through Firearm Ownership and Use
Hypothesis H3 is Supported
6. Incentives and Market Forces
Market Forces
Taxing Power
Insurance Requirements
More Guns Than People
Internet Facilitated Commerce
Threats to the Market: De-Platforming and Corporate Gun Control
Capitalism is About Profit AND Loss
7. Resistance of Washington, D.C. To Court Orders
8. Conclusion on the National Level Testing of the Constrained Court Theory
9. Illinois – A State Of Conflict
Political Culture Histography and Federalism
Illinois Settlement Patterns
Opinion Divide Between Political Culture Types in Illinois
Chicago and Downstate Divide on Guns
Sanctuary Counties and Municipalities
Testing the Dynamic and Constrained Court Theories in Illinois
Implementation of McDonald in Illinois
Not Backlash, per se, but Resistance to Change
Conclusion on Illinois
10. “Come And Get Them!” – Texas and Guns
Texas’ History Leads to Support for the Second Amendment
Origins of Texas
Texas Gun Culture and Pre-and Post-Revolution
Texans’ Armed Society: Citizen Militias and Honor Culture
Texas’ Hierarchical Structure
Texas into the Union, the Civil War, and Reconstruction
End of Reconstruction
Closing the Frontier
Texas and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in the 20th Century and Beyond
Modern Texas and Gun Rights
Testing the Constrained Court and Dynamic Court Theories in Texas
Conclusion on Texas
11. California and the Future of Gun Control, Vanguard or Rearguard Action?
Spanish California
From Mexican California to American California
California from the Civil War until the 20th Century
The Tinseltown Dream Factory and Guns
Hollywood’s Schizophrenic Relationship with Guns
California’s Demographic Transformation
California as a Bellwether
Testing the Dynamic and Constrained Court Theories in California
Conclusion on California
12. Cultural Variation Matters
Looking Ahead
13. Final Thoughts
Appendix A. Timeline
Appendix B. State Political Culture and Brady Score Index
Appendix C. Brady Gun Control Scoring Methodology


The U.S. Supreme Court increasingly matters in American political life when those across the political spectrum look at the Court for relief from policies they oppose and as another venue for advancing their own policy agendas. However, the evidence is mounting, to include this book in a big way, that courts are more of a sideshow to the culture war. While court decisions, especially Supreme Court decisions, do have importance, the decisions emanating from the Court reflect social, cultural, and political change that occurred long prior to their decision ever being made.
This book tests how much political and social change has been made primarily through Gerald Rosenberg’s framework from his seminal work, The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change, but it also utilizes Daniel Elazar’s Political Culture Theory to explain state level variations in political and social change. The findings indicate that while courts are not powerless institutions, reformers will not have success unless supported by the public and the elected branches, and most specifically, that preexisting state culture is a determining factor in the amount of change courts make. In short, federalism still matters.

Anthony D. Cooling is a Budget and Revenue Officer.

“Building on Rosenberg’s Hollow Hope and Elazar’s measures of political culture, Cooling explores the effect of the Supreme Court’s Heller and McDonald decisions on the level of gun ownership. Combining nationwide quantitative data with three qualitative state studies, Cooling presents a nuanced, detailed, and comprehensive examination of how states responded to the Court. The provocative and counterintuitive findings may surprise the reader.”
—Gerald N. Rosenberg, author of The Hollow Hope (3rd Edition forthcoming Spring 2023)

- Gerald N. Rosenberg

“This book is a careful and convincing application, elaboration, and extension of Gerald Rosenberg’s original theory of the limited capacity of the Supreme Court to effect significant change. Here too, the author finds that the Court does little more than reflect with shifting political cultures. It is a must read for anyone interested in political change and the Supreme Court. A stunning achievement.”
—Malcolm Feeley, Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program, School of Law, UC Berkeley

- Malcolm Feeley

Read: Blog post on The Page 99 Test | December 6, 2022
Read: Author guest blog post | September 26, 2022
Read: Blog post on Substack | September 5, 2022