The United States has more lawyers per capita than any other country: two and a half times as many as Great Britain, five times as many as Germany, and twenty-five times as many as Japan. There’s even an entire television network devoted to covering trials (Court TV) and three versions of NBC’s popular show Law and Order.

Courts—and lawyers—have played crucial roles throughout American history. In the twentieth century, for example, court cases such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and Miranda v. Arizona (1966) have shaped the political landscape and caused tremendous controversy. In today’s political environment, we hear complaints from some who say that the courts are overstepping their bounds and undermining democracy, whereas others see the courts as the last protection against tyranny of the majority. The judicial branch of government is an integral, albeit complicated, part of American democracy.

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