Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Political Science

Content Description

1 online resource (vii, 374 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Julie Novkov

Committee Members

Udi Sommer, Patricia Strach


abortion, courts, institutions, law, new jersey, new york, Abortion, State courts

Subject Categories

Law | Political Science


Policy can be made by all three branches of government, and the institutional location of change will have an impact on the shape of policy outputs. This dissertation examines the question of what factors will make courts more or less likely to undertake and continue policymaking in a given issue area. In particular, the study presented here considers the development of abortion policy in New York and New Jersey over a forty-year period beginning in 1970. Using both quantitative and qualitative research methods, this work proposes a theoretical framework whereby issue framing, coupled with institutional first movement, will greatly influence the role the courts come to play in subsequent decision making. A conflict or controversy that is first articulated through a "legal" lens will be considerably more likely to see significant judicial involvement, and a deferential legislature and executive. At the same time, issues first discussed in "political" language are much less apt to see a meaningful role for the courts. These findings have implications at both the theoretical level as well as in more practical terms related to the role of the courts as policy makers.