Guest poster James Ryan on the influence of social movements on the courts

Slate's blog on legal issues.
March 21 2008 3:55 PM

Guest poster James Ryan on the influence of social movements on the courts

I’ve been getting lots of interesting emails about my conversation with Jack about the proper role of social moments in constitutional courts so I thought I’d share some of the best. James Ryan teaches at the University of Virginia and has written for Slate . He writes:

I wonder if what really bothers you is the difference between well-heeled interest groups, who should be able to do just fine in the legislature, versus social groups that are traditionally disadvantaged in the legislative process. Seems like you could accept that social groups can and should help shape the Court's agenda but believe, ala Ely and political process theory, that there's no reason for the Court to overturn the legislative process when it disadvantages social groups that can and often do just fine in the legislative arena, as in the NRA. The Court might want to take a closer look when groups that are routinely disadvantaged ask for their help.  E.g., you can make the argument that the Court should pay more attention to the NAACP than the NRA. 

Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate. Follow her on Twitter.