The book The Supreme Court in the American Legal System (Segal/Spaeth/Benesh 2005) is reviewed by Richard Pacelle (Georgia Southern) in the recent Perspectives on Politics (Vol. 4, No. 1, Mar. 2006). While the short review recognizes that the book "is designed to be a less methodologically sophisticated analysis," the review questions the book's usefulness--"this will be a book in search of a market"--because Pacelle "suspect[s] instructors will opt for a more nuanced treatment of judicial decision making." Pacelle's hypothesis may be correct; but perhaps the book might also be filling a gap in the market. For example, to my knowledge, it is the only text on judicial process/behavior that includes a website with empirical data and commands (in SPSS) to let students replicate the analyses presented in the book.
It seems that judicial politics/judicial decision-making/American legal system/Supreme Court seminars involve professors and students with a wide range of methodological interest and expertise. While the ELS Blog discussed book selection in the classroom before, no suggestions were made about what judicial behavior books should be used for different types of courses with students and professors of varying interests and training, e.g., graduate versus undergraduate students; students with versus without statistical training. (A hierarchy was successfully created for statistical software.) I've seen Robert McCloskey's The American Supreme Court assigned for both undergraduate non-empirical courses and law school empirical seminars on the courts, with most graduate judicial politics seminars in law and the social sciences assigning The Supreme Court and the Attitudinal Model Revisited.
What is the hierarchy of foundational judicial decision-making texts in terms of methodological sophistication? Or, more specifically, what should one assign law students (or upper level undergraduates) with no previous statistics training in a judicial decision-making seminar?