Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type

Thesis

First Advisor

false

Abstract

My study examines why some lawsuits against the federal government involve multiple states while others involve single states. I compare two multi-state lawsuits against two single-state lawsuits. For each case, I examine public opinion, the state attorneys general (SAGs) who represent the states in the lawsuits, and the SAGs’ political ambition. The results indicate that on the one hand, in multi-state court cases, a majority of the national public opposes the federal law. On the other hand, in single-state lawsuits, a majority of the national public supports the federal law. In multi-state lawsuits, states join the litigation only if the members of the SAGs’ political party oppose the federal law. SAGs join multi-state lawsuits to obtain political capital because of their ambition to run for reelection or for another political office. My thesis suggests that courts are being used for a partisan political game and states are suing because of public opinion, not because the federal government is violating the law.

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