U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Stopping Executions Without Abolishing Capital Punishment (From Only Judgement - The Limits of Litigation in Social Change, P 194-212, 1982, by Aryeh Neier)

NCJ Number
A Neier
Date Published
19 pages
This text contends that litigation has earned the acceptance it now enjoys through its role in resolving public policy questions. It provides an overview of the accomplishments of litigation over the last 30 years.
Litigation's present source of power is traced to its great achievement in bringing about the United States Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which declared as unconstitutional enforced racial segregation in public schools. The claims of such protest groups as women, blacks, the mentally retarded, prisoners, environmentalists, political dissidents, and mental hospital patients are reviewed; the legislative, rather than judicial, route of seeking redress of grievances is recommended for some. Thus, while the activist role of the courts in extending the rights of neglected groups is defended, some groups are warned that the courts cannot be relied on for social change. The question of whether it is legitimate for the courts to employ their authority to make public policy is addressed. It is argumented that judicial policymaking is legitimate only (l) when compelling principles of corrective justice dictate ventures into the realms of distributive justice and political science, and (2) when such ventures unclog political processes that prevent the representative branches of government from functioning representatively, or (3) when such ventures help disadvantaged minorities compete fairly in a pluralist democracy. Chapter notes and an index are provided.


No download available