Law and Society.
In the 1990s public concern over various social and political issues was manifested in new legislation, litigation, and court decisions. Attention was focused on crime rates, the accessibility of guns, juvenile violence, the rights of minorities and women, and corporate liability for unsafe consumer products. Several highly publicized criminal trials played out before the American public and the world through the medium of television. Conflicts over the civil rights of minorities, women, and the terminally ill were debated in state legislatures, Congress, and courtrooms. The impact of scientific and technological developments also faced legal and political scrutiny. Reflecting the more conservative mood of the country, environmental conservation legislation met opposition from the growing property-rights protection movement. Various legal issues, as well, arose out of the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.
Concern over crime remained one of the most important public policy issues. In the early part of the 1990s, national crime rates rose slightly, but by mid decade they went down. This decrease was most dramatic in the number of violent crimes. Crime statistics in major urban areas and rural localities mirrored this general decline. Drug-related crimes, however, increased nationwide. Violent...
(The entire section is 1438 words.)
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