Author: Stephen Breyer
A brilliant new approach to the Constitution and courts of the United States by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.For Justice Breyer, the Constitution’s primary role is to preserve and encourage what he calls “active liberty”: citizen participation in shaping government and its laws. As this book argues, promoting active liberty requires judicial modesty and deference to Congress; it also means recognizing the changing needs and demands of the populace. Indeed, the Constitution’s lasting brilliance is that its principles may be adapted to cope with unanticipated situations, and Breyer makes a powerful case against treating it as a static guide intended for a world that is dead and gone. Using contemporary examples from federalism to privacy to affirmative action, this is a vital contribution to the ongoing debate over the role and power of our courts. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Author: Stephen Breyer
Publisher: Vintage Books USA
The Supreme Court justice defines and examines the legal principles of active liberty and emphasizes its importance in constitutional and statutory interpretation, using examples from the areas of federalism to affirmative action to argue that the Constitution and its tenets may adapt to changing situations and times. Reprint. 35,000 first printing.
Author: Stephen G. Breyer
Publisher: Alfred a Knopf Incorporated
Defines and examines the principles of active liberty and emphasizes its importance in constitutional and statutory interpretation.
We are all familiar with the image of the immensely clever judge who discerns the best rule of common law for the case at hand. According to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a judge like this can maneuver through earlier cases to achieve the desired aim—"distinguishing one prior case on his left, straight-arming another one on his right, high-stepping away from another precedent about to tackle him from the rear, until (bravo!) he reaches the goal—good law." But is this common-law mindset, which is appropriate in its place, suitable also in statutory and constitutional interpretation? In a witty and trenchant essay, Justice Scalia answers this question with a resounding negative. In exploring the neglected art of statutory interpretation, Scalia urges that judges resist the temptation to use legislative intention and legislative history. In his view, it is incompatible with democratic government to allow the meaning of a statute to be determined by what the judges think the lawgivers meant rather than by what the legislature actually promulgated. Eschewing the judicial lawmaking that is the essence of common law, judges should interpret statutes and regulations by focusing on the text itself. Scalia then extends this principle to constitutional law. He proposes that we abandon the notion of an everchanging Constitution and pay attention to the Constitution's original meaning. Although not subscribing to the “strict constructionism” that would prevent applying the Constitution to modern circumstances, Scalia emphatically rejects the idea that judges can properly “smuggle” in new rights or deny old rights by using the Due Process Clause, for instance. In fact, such judicial discretion might lead to the destruction of the Bill of Rights if a majority of the judges ever wished to reach that most undesirable of goals. This essay is followed by four commentaries by Professors Gordon Wood, Laurence Tribe, Mary Ann Glendon, and Ronald Dworkin, who engage Justice Scalia’s ideas about judicial interpretation from varying standpoints. In the spirit of debate, Justice Scalia responds to these critics. Featuring a new foreword that discusses Scalia’s impact, jurisprudence, and legacy, this witty and trenchant exchange illuminates the brilliance of one of the most influential legal minds of our time.
"In this original, far-reaching, and timely book, Justice Stephen Breyer examines the work of the Supreme Court of the United States in an increasingly interconnected world, a world in which all sorts of activity, both public and private--from the conduct of national security policy to the conduct of international trade--obliges the Court to understand and consider circumstances beyond America's borders. It is a world of instant communications, lightning-fast commerce, and shared problems (like public health threats and environmental degradation), and it is one in which the lives of Americans are routinely linked ever more pervasively to those of people in foreign lands. Indeed, at a moment when anyone may engage in direct transactions internationally for services previously bought and sold only locally (lodging, for instance, through online sites), it has become clear that, even in ordinary matters, judicial awareness can no longer stop at the water's edge. To trace how foreign considerations have come to inform the thinking of the Court, Justice Breyer begins with that area of the law in which they have always figured prominently: national security in its constitutional dimension--how should the Court balance this imperative with others, chiefly the protection of basic liberties, in its review of presidential and congressional actions? He goes on to show that as the world has grown steadily "smaller," the Court's horizons have inevitably expanded: it has been obliged to consider a great many more matters that now cross borders. What is the geographical reach of an American statute concerning, say, securities fraud, antitrust violations, or copyright protections? And in deciding such matters, can the Court interpret American laws so that they might work more efficiently with similar laws in other nations? While Americans must necessarily determine their own laws through democratic process, increasingly, the smooth operation of American law--and, by extension, the advancement of American interests and values--depends on its working in harmony with that of other jurisdictions. Justice Breyer describes how the aim of cultivating such harmony, as well as the expansion of the rule of law overall, with its attendant benefits, has drawn American jurists into the relatively new role of "constitutional diplomats," a little remarked but increasingly important job for them in this fast-changing world."--Publisher's description.
The U.S. Constitution found in school textbooks and under glass in Washington is not the one enforced today by the Supreme Court. In Restoring the Lost Constitution, Randy Barnett argues that since the nation's founding, but especially since the 1930s, the courts have been cutting holes in the original Constitution and its amendments to eliminate the parts that protect liberty from the power of government. From the Commerce Clause, to the Necessary and Proper Clause, to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, to the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court has rendered each of these provisions toothless. In the process, the written Constitution has been lost. Barnett establishes the original meaning of these lost clauses and offers a practical way to restore them to their central role in constraining government: adopting a "presumption of liberty" to give the benefit of the doubt to citizens when laws restrict their rightful exercises of liberty. He also provides a new, realistic and philosophically rigorous theory of constitutional legitimacy that justifies both interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning and, where that meaning is vague or open-ended, construing it so as to better protect the rights retained by the people. As clearly argued as it is insightful and provocative, Restoring the Lost Constitution forcefully disputes the conventional wisdom, posing a powerful challenge to which others must now respond. This updated edition features an afterword with further reflections on individual popular sovereignty, originalist interpretation, judicial engagement, and the gravitational force that original meaning has exerted on the Supreme Court in several recent cases.
Constant: Political Writings
Author: Benjamin Constant, Biancamaria Fontana
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Classic definitions of modern liberal doctrine emerge from the first English translation of the major political works of Benjamin Constant (1767-1830), one of the most important of the French political theorists.
The judicial review of regulatory agencies' decisions, and of statutory enactments with important economic content, presents unique and persistent problems. These decisions are often technical and complex, and the judicial review is usually performed by non-specialists who often seek to provide clear rules and predictability, not case-by-case economic balancing of their own. Sound economic policy requires a balancing of both costs and benefits and demand and supply. In Economic Reasoning and Judicial Review (AEI Press, March 2004)--an essay first presented in December 2003 as the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies' 2003 Distinguished Lecture--Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, discusses these dilemmas in the context of recent Supreme Court decisions and offers suggestions for addressing them. In order to bring economic reasoning to bear in legal fields, such as antitrust law, intellectual property law, and economic regulation, Justice Breyer recommends the following: The law must take into greater consideration the underlying human purposes of the law, rather than simply favor strict legal categories. Courts should consider using independent experts for economic reasoning in technical areas rather than sending judges to economic seminars. These experts should understand the role that administrative considerations, such as the need for rules, play in the law. Given the law's reluctance to rely upon novel approaches, institutions outside the judiciary should debate and adopt economic methods for the courts to model. The legal process, Justice Breyer argues, "is too important to be left simply to the legal specialists, to the lawyers, or even to the judges." Those with basic economic or regulatory policymaking expertise need to participate in the judicial process. Whether serving as experts in individual cases or informed court watchers and critics, these experts can help lawyers and judges understand the tools of analysis and encourage their use. Justice Breyer has long been a leader in the quest to build a rational consensus on the appropriate role of government intervention in a market-based economy. As counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, he was one of the chief architects of airline deregulation. As a Harvard University law professor and a Supreme Court Justice, he has made seminal contributions to the understanding of social and economic regulation, copyright law, and administrative law. Justice Breyer is the author of Regulation and Its Reform (Harvard, 1992) and Breaking the Vicious Circle: Toward Effective Risk Regulation (Harvard, 1993).
Against the Death Penalty
Author: Stephen Breyer
Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
A landmark dissenting opinion arguing against the death penalty Does the death penalty violate the Constitution? In Against the Death Penalty, Justice Stephen G. Breyer argues that it does: that it is carried out unfairly and inconsistently, and thus violates the ban on "cruel and unusual punishments" specified by the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. "Today’s administration of the death penalty," Breyer writes, "involves three fundamental constitutional defects: (1) serious unreliability, (2) arbitrariness in application, and (3) unconscionably long delays that undermine the death penalty’s penological purpose. Perhaps as a result, (4) most places within the United States have abandoned its use." This volume contains Breyer's dissent in the case of Glossip v. Gross, which involved an unsuccessful challenge to Oklahoma's use of a lethal-injection drug because it might cause severe pain. Justice Breyer's legal citations have been edited to make them understandable to a general audience, but the text retains the full force of his powerful argument that the time has come for the Supreme Court to revisit the constitutionality of the death penalty. Breyer was joined in his dissent from the bench by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Their passionate argument has been cited by many legal experts — including fellow Justice Antonin Scalia — as signaling an eventual Court ruling striking down the death penalty. A similar dissent in 1963 by Breyer's mentor, Justice Arthur J. Goldberg, helped set the stage for a later ruling, imposing what turned out to be a four-year moratorium on executions.
Author: Laurence Tribe, Joshua Matz
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
With the Supreme Court more influential than ever, this eye-opening book tells the story of how the Roberts Court is shaking the foundation of our nation's laws From Citizens United to its momentous rulings regarding Obamacare and gay marriage, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts has profoundly affected American life. Yet the court remains a mysterious institution, and the motivations of the nine men and women who serve for life are often obscure. Now, in Uncertain Justice, Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz show the surprising extent to which the Roberts Court is revising the meaning of our Constitution. This essential book arrives at a make-or-break moment for the nation and the court. Political gridlock, cultural change, and technological progress mean that the court's decisions on key topics—including free speech, privacy, voting rights, and presidential power—could be uniquely durable. Acutely aware of their opportunity, the justices are rewriting critical aspects of constitutional law and redrawing the ground rules of American government. Tribe—one of the country's leading constitutional lawyers—and Matz dig deeply into the court's recent rulings, stepping beyond tired debates over judicial "activism" to draw out hidden meanings and silent battles. The undercurrents they reveal suggest a strikingly different vision for the future of our country, one that is sure to be hotly debated. Filled with original insights and compelling human stories, Uncertain Justice illuminates the most colorful story of all—how the Supreme Court and the Constitution frame the way we live.
Richard Posner argues for a conception of the liberal state based on pragmatic theories of government. He views the actions of elected officials as guided by interests rather than by reason and the decisions of judges by discretion rather than by rules. He emphasizes the institutional and material, rather than moral and deliberative, factors in democratic decision making. Posner argues that democracy is best viewed as a competition for power by means of regular elections. Citizens should not be expected to play a significant role in making complex public policy regarding, say, taxes or missile defense.
A Crime of Self-Defense
Author: George P. Fletcher
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Legal expert George Fletcher uses the celebrated trial of New York's "Subway Vigilante", Bernhard Goetz, as a springboard to probe the profound relationship between this defensive action, the public's understanding of it, and the court's interpretation of it according to the law.
A Supreme Court justice outlines an accessible profile of the legislative branch's duties that explains its responsibility to safeguard the public while ensuring the cooperation of other government branches, sharing the stories behind key historical decisions. By the author of Active Liberty. Reprint. A best-selling book.
Summary: Active Liberty
Author: BusinessNews Publishing
The must-read summary of Stephen Breyer's book: "Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution". This complete summary of "Active Liberty" by Stephen Breyer, a liberal-leaning Supreme Court Justice in the United States, outlines the author's argument that the American Constitution should be used as a guide for the application of American principles. He highlights the fact that the Constitution must not be rigid but adapt to the needs of society, and that American citizens should have more participation in the shaping of the country's laws, a principle which requires more deference to Congress and judicial modesty. Added-value of this summary: • Save time • Gain understanding of the American Constitution and its implications • Expand your knowledge of American politics and society To learn more, read "Active Liberty" and discover Breyer's views on active liberty and the role of the Constitution in the modern age.
From Brown v. Board of Education to Roe v. Wade to Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court has, over the past fifty years, assumed an increasingly controversial place in American national political life. As the recurring struggles over nominations to the Court illustrate, few questions today divide our political community more profoundly than those concerning the Court's proper role as protector of liberties and guardian of the Constitution. If the nation is today in the midst of a "culture war," the contest over the Supreme Court is certainly one of its principal battlefields. In this volume, distinguished constitutional scholars aim to move debate beyond the sound bites that divide the opposing parties to more fundamental discussions about the nature of constitutionalism. Toward this end, the volume includes chapters on the philosophical and historical origins of the idea of constitutionalism; on theories of constitutionalism in American history in particular; on the practices of constitutionalism around the globe; and on the parallel emergence of--and the persistent tensions between--constitutionalism and democracy throughout the modern world. In democracies, the primary point of having a constitution is to place some matters beyond politics and partisan contest. And yet it seems equally clear that constitutionalism of this kind results in a struggle over the meaning or proper interpretation of the constitution, a struggle that is itself deeply political. Although the volume represents a variety of viewpoints and approaches, this struggle, which is the central paradox of constitutionalism, is the ultimate theme of all the essays.