Research Handbook on Law and Courts
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Research Handbook on Law and Courts

Edited by Susan M. Sterett and Lee D. Walker

The Research Handbook on Law and Courts provides a systematic analysis of new work on courts as governing institutions. Authors consider how courts have taken on regulating fundamental categories of inclusion and exclusion, including citizenship rights. Courts’ centrality to governance is addressed in sections on judicial processes, sub-national courts, and political accountability, all analyzed in multiple legal/political systems. Other chapters turn to analyzing the worldwide push for diversity in staffing courts. Finally, the digitization of records changes both court processes and studying courts. Authors included in the Handbook discuss theoretical, empirical and methodological approaches to studying courts as governing institutions. They also identify promising areas of future research.
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Chapter 5: Law, courts and populism: climate change litigation and the narrative turn

Chris Hilson


Climate change litigation has become an increasingly common feature of the modern legal landscape. Populism has, likewise, become commonplace within the political landscape, and the interaction between populism and the courts is the subject of a growing literature. This chapter considers the connections linking the two fields, considering in particular whether climate change litigation can be said to be populist in nature. Based on a survey of relevant cases, I develop two categories, populist legalism and legal populism: the former relates to the nature of the parties involved in litigation and the latter to the narrative style employed in legal submissions. I argue that there are both benefits and distinct risks in borrowing from the populist playbook. While the chapter is focused on climate change litigation, its framework and conclusions are likely to be more broadly applicable to other policy fields examined by law and courts scholars.

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