The Public Interest

Social Science and the Courts: The Detroit Schools Case

Eleanor P. Wolf

Winter 1976

THE role of the social sciences in judicial decision-making has received considerable attention from the field of law, and in recent years much of this attention has focused on issues related to school segregation. Social scientists have not paid nearly so much attention-few, for example, have chosen to make a detailed study of a single case. Yet many of the Northern school cases-involving, as they do, issues of greater complexity and ambiguity than the cases concerning the openly dual systems of the pre-1954 South have used substantial amounts of social-science materials. In addition, the significance of a single case in law is somewhat different than is generally true in the social sciences because of the controlling effects of precedent.

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