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Press Release: Rosenberg, The Hollow Hope

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Soon after The Hollow Hope’s initial publication, a reviewer declared that “one may not always agree with Rosenberg’s book, but it will be impossible to ignore it. It should set the terms of the debate about the role of the Supreme Court during the last decade of the twentieth century.” Having fulfilled all of this promise and then some during nearly two decades of intense argument over its conclusions, The Hollow Hope now returns—substantially expanded and updated—to chart the course of twenty-first century debate about whether courts can spur political and social reform.
With new chapters that respond to his critics and address the courts’ role in the struggle for same-sex marriage rights, Gerald Rosenberg emphatically reasserts his powerful contention that it’s nearly impossible to generate significant reforms through litigation. The reason? American courts are ineffective and relatively weak—far from the uniquely powerful sources for change they’re often portrayed as. Rosenberg supports this claim by documenting the direct and secondary effects of key court decisions—particularly Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade. Further illuminating these cases, as well as the ongoing fight for same-sex marriage rights, he also marshals impressive evidence to overturn the common assumption that even unsuccessful litigation can advance a cause by raising its profile.
The Hollow Hope has indisputably vindicated another reviewer’s prediction that it would “fundamentally reshape how we see the courts and what questions we ask about them.” As legal battles over hot-button social issues stretch on, the new Hollow Hope is poised to reignite the landmark debate sparked by its first incarnation.
Read the press release.