LEGAL ARGUMENT, ISSUE FRAMING, AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW ON THE SUPREME COURT
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Abstract Title of Dissertation: LEGAL ARGUMENT, ISSUE FRAMING, AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW ON THE SUPREME COURT Jonathan B. Hensley, Doctor of Philosophy, 2015 Dissertation Directed By: Dr. Wayne McIntosh Department of Government and Politics Supreme Court advocates seek to influence the Supreme Court through the arguments made in briefs filed with the Court. This dissertation examines the extent to which language used in attorneys' briefs is adopted by the Supreme Court, and whether the arguments made by attorneys affect the content and outcome of Court decisions. I focus on the Court's campaign finance jurisprudence, as the focus on a particular area of law allows the tracing of language related to similar issues over time. In Chapter Two, I demonstrate that the Court's campaign finance decisions can be divided into four eras that are distinguishable by the Court's relative deference or skepticism toward legislative determinations regarding campaign finance regulation. Chapter Three examines instances in which justices have changed their minds on important issues and searches for evidence that arguments in briefs influenced these changes, but finds that there is little evidence that these changes can be directly attributed to arguments found in briefs. Chapter Four examines legal argument through issue framing, analyzing the issue frames employed in both court opinions and attorney's briefs. I conclude that the four eras of campaign finance law can also be distinguished by differences in issue framing. I further conclude that advocates can affect the way the Court views an issue by adding new frames at the Supreme Court level that were not present in the lower courts, especially in the transitional cases that mark the beginning of a new era.