In the Preface to our inaugural issue, then-Circuit Judge Antonin Scalia issued the following charge:
"Resolving the tension between the rule of law and the will of the people - between law and politics - is the supreme task of our government system. We sometimes tend to forget that it is more a matter of resolving tensions than of drawing lines, for there is no clear demarcation between the two. Laws are made, and even interpreted and applied (by administrative agencies), through a political process; and politics are conducted under the constitution and statutory constraints of the law.
"This new journal is meant to give that interplay the scholarly attention it deserves. It will examine the impact of law upon the processes and outcomes of our elections, and upon the victor's ability to reflect the popular will once in office. Conversely, it will examine the extent to which the popular will, brought to bear through the election of new executive officers and their congressional overseers, and through the desire of many of those officials to be reelected, can and should affect the interpretation and application of existing laws."
The Honorable Antonin Scalia
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
October 28, 1983
Under the guidance of Justice Scalia, the Journal of Law & Politics, an entirely student-run publication at the University of Virginia School of Law, was founded in 1983 to provide a forum through which to analyze, discuss and debate the role of law in the political process and the role of politics in the legal system. Over the past quarter-century, the Journal has stayed faithful to its original mission and today remains the only non-partisan publication devoted exclusively to examining the interaction between law and politics
Published four times a year (Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall) the Journal consists of articles, essays, book reviews, and commentaries by scholars, practitioners, national political leaders, and students focusing on issues at the cross-roads of law and politics: the role of the judiciary in making law, the relationship of the three branches of government, federalism, the politics of the judicial appointment process, voting rights, campaign finance, redistricting, voter initiatives, ethics investigations, the politics of education, and religious freedom in a pluralist society.
As the only publication of its kind, the Journal boasts a proud and distinguished history of contributors. Of course, many of the Journal's pages have been filled with pieces by prominent professors from the nation's top universities and law schools. Nevertheless, the Journal also maintains a steadfast commitment to publishing works by authors from outside the academic realm. The Journal has published a number of luminary jurists including Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Justice Byron White, and a dozen federal circuit court judges. Numerous members of Congress have also written for the Journal, including Senators Warren Rudman, Mitch McConnell, Strom Thurmond, and Orrin Hatch, and Representatives David McIntosh and Robert Livingston. Other notable authors from outside the professorate include Robert Bork, Ralph Nader, Ed Meese, Theodore Olson, former Secretary of Education Lauro Cavaso, and Gary Bauer. The Journal has also published representatives from such diverse institutions as the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Enterprise Institute, the Department of Justice, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Democratic Leadership Council, the U.S. Catholic Conference, and the Common Cause.
The Journal has played an influential role in the courts and the legal academy. Over the years, the Journal has been cited by the Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and D.C. Circuits, the supreme courts of Colorado, Louisiana, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and a dozen lower federal and state courts. In addition, Journal articles have been cited hundreds of times in academic articles and anthologized in a number of books.