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date: 19 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Courts in general, the U.S. Supreme Court in particular, and constitutional law are, have been, and will continue to be the intellectual center of gravity for the law and courts subfield of political science—albeit with the welcome addition in recent years of a strong element of comparative inquiry. Indeed, there was a time at the beginning of the twentieth century when they were the intellectual center of gravity of the discipline of political science. Beginning in the late 1950s, however, the law and courts subfield—formerly known as public law—began to spread its wings. This is the process known as de-centering. The de-centering impact of the new institutionalism and its precursors is perhaps best captured by the idea of putting the law into its political context. This article examines the roots, the elements, and the rewards of de-centering and argues that de-centering does not displace the center but augments it. It also discusses legality, politics, and democracy as well as legal accountability, electoral accountability, and the politicization of legal accountability.

Keywords: courts, political science, de-centering, legality, democracy, politics, institutionalism, legal accountability, electoral accountability, law

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