How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution
Author: Barry Friedman
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
In recent years, the justices of the Supreme Court have ruled definitively on such issues as abortion, school prayer, and military tribunals in the war on terror. They decided one of American history's most contested presidential elections. Yet for all their power, the justices never face election and hold their offices for life. This combination of influence and apparent unaccountability has led many to complain that there is something illegitimate—even undemocratic—about judicial authority. In The Will of the People, Barry Friedman challenges that claim by showing that the Court has always been subject to a higher power: the American public. Judicial positions have been abolished, the justices' jurisdiction has been stripped, the Court has been packed, and unpopular decisions have been defied. For at least the past sixty years, the justices have made sure that their decisions do not stray too far from public opinion. Friedman's pathbreaking account of the relationship between popular opinion and the Supreme Court—from the Declaration of Independence to the end of the Rehnquist court in 2005—details how the American people came to accept their most controversial institution and shaped the meaning of the Constitution.
A Theoretical and Empirical Study of Rational Choice
Author: Lee Epstein,William M Landes,Richard A Posner
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Federal judges are not just robots or politicians in robes, yet their behavior is not well understood, even among themselves. Using statistical methods, a political scientist, an economist, and a judge construct a unified theory of judicial decision-making to dispel the mystery of how decisions from district courts to the Supreme Court are made.
Author: Paul M. Collins,Lori A. Ringhand
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Demonstrates that the hearings to confirm Supreme Court nominees are in fact a democratic forum for the discussion and ratification of constitutional change.
Author: Tom Campbell,Keith D. Ewing,Adam Tomkins
Publisher: Oxford University Press on Demand
The value and legitimacy of using courts to limit the powers of governments in the domain of human rights is a significant ongoing debate. This book provides a critical review that explores the alternative means for protecting and promoting human rights.
Author: Michael Waldman
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Widely acclaimed at the time of its publication, the life story of the most controversial, volatile, misunderstood provision of the Bill of Rights. At a time of increasing gun violence in America, Waldman’s book provoked a wide range of discussion. This book looks at history to provide some surprising, illuminating answers. The Amendment was written to calm public fear that the new national government would crush the state militias made up of all (white) adult men—who were required to own a gun to serve. Waldman recounts the raucous public debate that has surrounded the amendment from its inception to the present. As the country spread to the Western frontier, violence spread too. But through it all, gun control was abundant. In the twentieth century, with Prohibition and gangsterism, the first federal control laws were passed. In all four separate times the Supreme Court ruled against a constitutional right to own a gun. The present debate picked up in the 1970s—part of a backlash to the liberal 1960s and a resurgence of libertarianism. A newly radicalized NRA entered the campaign to oppose gun control and elevate the status of an obscure constitutional provision. In 2008, in a case that reached the Court after a focused drive by conservative lawyers, the US Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the Constitution protects an individual right to gun ownership. Famous for his theory of “originalism,” Justice Antonin Scalia twisted it in this instance to base his argument on contemporary conditions. In The Second Amendment: A Biography, Michael Waldman shows that our view of the amendment is set, at each stage, not by a pristine constitutional text, but by the push and pull, the rough and tumble of political advocacy and public agitation.
The Normative Implications of Empirical Research
Author: Brandon L. Bartels,Chris W. Bonneau
Category: Political Science
One of the more enduring topics of concern for empirically-oriented scholars of law and courts—and political scientists more generally—is how research can be more directly relevant to broader audiences outside of academia. A significant part of this issue goes back to a seeming disconnect between empirical and normative scholars of law and courts that has increased in recent years. Brandon L. Bartels and Chris W. Bonneau argue that being attuned to the normative implications of one’s work enhances the quality of empirical work, not to mention makes it substantially more interesting to both academics and non-academic practitioners. Their book’s mission is to examine how the normative implications of empirical work in law and courts can be more visible and relevant to audiences beyond academia. Written by scholars of political science, law, and sociology, the chapters in the volume offer ideas on a methodology for communicating normative implications in a balanced, nuanced, and modest manner. The contributors argue that if empirical work is strongly suggestive of certain policy or institutional changes, scholars should make those implications known so that information can be diffused. The volume consists of four sections that respectively address the general enterprise of developing normative implications of empirical research, law and decisionmaking, judicial selection, and courts in the broader political and societal context. This volume represents the start of a conversation on the topic of how the normative implications of empirical research in law and courts can be made more visible. This book will primarily interest scholars of law and courts, as well as students of judicial politics. Other subfields of political science engaging in empirical research will also find the suggestions made in the book relevant.
Author: John O. McGinnis,Michael B. Rappaport
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Originalism holds that the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted according to its meaning at the time it was enacted. In their innovative defense of originalism, John McGinnis and Michael Rappaport maintain that the text of the Constitution should be adhered to by the Supreme Court because it was enacted by supermajorities--both its original enactment under Article VII and subsequent Amendments under Article V. A text approved by supermajorities has special value in a democracy because it has unusually wide support and thus tends to maximize the welfare of the greatest number. The authors recognize and respond to many possible objections. Does originalism perpetuate the dead hand of the past? How can originalism be justified, given the exclusion of African Americans and women from the Constitution and many of its subsequent Amendments? What is originalism's place in interpretation, after two hundred years of non-originalist precedent? A fascinating counterfactual they pose is this: had the Supreme Court not interpreted the Constitution so freely, perhaps the nation would have resorted to the Article V amendment process more often and with greater effect. Their book will be an important contribution to the literature on originalism, now the most prominent theory of constitutional interpretation.
The War on Terror and the Erosion of American Democracy
Author: Susan N. Herman
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Category: Political Science
In this eye-opening work, the president of the ACLU takes a hard look at the human and social costs of the War on Terror. Over a decade after 9/11, it is far from clear that the government's hastily adopted antiterrorist tactics--such as the Patriot Act--are keeping us safe, but it is increasingly clear that these emergency measures in fact have the potential to ravage our lives--and have already done just that to countless Americans. From the Oregon lawyer falsely suspected of involvement with terrorism in Spain to the former University of Idaho football player arrested on the pretext that he was needed as a "material witness" (though he was never called to testify), this book is filled with unsettling stories of ordinary people caught in the government's dragnet. These are not just isolated mistakes in an otherwise sound program, but demonstrations of what can happen when our constitutional protections against government abuse are abandoned. Whether it's running a chat room, contributing to a charity, or even urging a terrorist group to forego its violent tactics, activities that should be protected by the First Amendment can now lead to prosecution. Blacklists and watchlists keep people grounded at airports and strand American citizens abroad, although these lists are rife with errors--errors that cannot be challenged. National Security Letters allow the FBI to demand records about innocent people from libraries, financial institutions, and internet service providers without ever going to court. Government databanks now brim with information about every aspect of our private lives, while efforts to mount legal challenges to these measures have been stymied. Barack Obama, like George W. Bush, relies on secrecy and exaggerated claims of presidential prerogative to keep the courts and Congress from fully examining whether these laws and policies are constitutional, effective, or even counterproductive. Democracy itself is undermined. This book is a wake-up call for all Americans, who remain largely unaware of the post-9/11 surveillance regime's insidious and continuing growth.
America's 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance
Author: Sanford Levinson
Publisher: Oxford University Press
In his widely acclaimed volume Our Undemocratic Constitution, Sanford Levinson boldly argued that our Constitution should not be treated with "sanctimonious reverence," but as a badly flawed document deserving revision. Now Levinson takes us deeper, asking what were the original assumptions underlying our institutions, and whether we accept those assumptions 225 years later. In Framed, Levinson challenges our belief that the most important features of our constitutions concern what rights they protect. Instead, he focuses on the fundamental procedures of governance such as congressional bicameralism; the selection of the President by the electoral college, or the dimensions of the President's veto power--not to mention the near impossibility of amending the United States Constitution. These seemingly "settled" and "hardwired" structures contribute to the now almost universally recognized "dysfunctionality" of American politics. Levinson argues that we should stop treating the United States Constitution as uniquely exemplifying the American constitutional tradition. We should be aware of the 50 state constitutions, often interestingly different--and perhaps better--than the national model. Many states have updated their constitutions by frequent amendment or by complete replacement via state constitutional conventions. California's ungovernable condition has prompted serious calls for a constitutional convention. This constant churn indicates that basic law often reaches the point where it fails and becomes obsolete. Given the experience of so many states, he writes, surely it is reasonable to believe that the U.S. Constitution merits its own updating. Whether we are concerned about making America more genuinely democratic or only about creating a system of government that can more effectively respond to contemporary challenges, we must confront the ways our constitutions, especially the United States Constitution, must be changed in fundamental ways.
Speedy Study Guides
Author: Speedy Publishing
Publisher: Speedy Publishing LLC
It is said that the US Constitution is a living document. A study guide that highlights cultural and language-born problems in understanding the Constitution, is a great way to begin a truly significant and in-depth study of this important document. Twenty-first century understanding of an Eighteenth century manifest requires expert, guided tutorials from preamble to benediction. Constitutional law study guides pinpoint relevant and timeless concepts from each Article, shows how they have been interpreted in the past, and gives significant study points for their possible affect in the future.