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.
In this important book, fourteen of America's leading constitutional scholars assess the Supreme Court's performance expounding the animating principles of American constitutionalism. Essays devoted to fresh examination of the Supreme Court's jurisprudence with respect to the Necessary and Proper Clause, the Commerce Clause, federalism, the common law, international law and national sovereignty, separation of powers, fundamental rights, term limits, and constitutional criminal procedure. Other essays evaluate the work of the Court as "republican school master", analyzing how the Court has articulated and affected the American people's capacity for self-government, the principle of the rule of law, the historic burden of racial injustice, respect for limited constitutional government, and the civilizational distinction between liberty and license. The Supreme Court and American Constitutionalism will be of great value to students and scholars of American constitutional studies, constitutional law, and American government.
The U.S. Supreme Court is the quintessential example of a court that expanded its agenda into policy areas that were once reserved for legislatures. Yet scholars know very little about what causes attention to various policy areas to ebb and flow on the Supreme Court’s agenda. Vanessa A. Baird’s Answering the Call of the Court: How Justices and Litigants Set the Supreme Court Agenda represents the first scholarly attempt to connect justices’ priorities, litigants’ strategies, and aggregate policy outputs of the U.S. Supreme Court. Most previous studies on the Supreme Court’s agenda examine case selection, but Baird demonstrates that the agenda-setting process begins long before justices choose which cases they will hear. When justices signal their interest in a particular policy area, litigants respond by sponsoring well-crafted cases in those policy areas. Approximately four to five years later, the Supreme Court’s agenda in those areas expands, with cases that are comparatively more politically important and divisive than other cases the Court hears. From issues of discrimination and free expression to welfare policy, from immigration to economic regulation, strategic supporters of litigation pay attention to the goals of Supreme Court justices and bring cases they can use to achieve those goals. Since policy making in courts is iterative, multiple well-crafted cases are needed for courts to make comprehensive policy. Baird argues that judicial policy-making power depends on the actions of policy entrepreneurs or other litigants who systematically respond to the priorities and preferences of Supreme Court justices.
The People Themselves
Author: Larry D. Kramer
Publisher: Oxford University Press
In this groundbreaking interpretation of America's founding and of its entire system of judicial review, Larry Kramer reveals that the colonists fought for and created a very different system--and held a very different understanding of citizenship--than Americans believe to be the norm today. "Popular sovereignty" was not just some historical abstraction, and the notion of "the people" was more than a flip rhetorical device invoked on the campaign trail. Questions of constitutional meaning provoked vigorous public debate and the actions of government officials were greeted with celebratory feasts and bonfires, or riotous resistance. Americans treated the Constitution as part of the lived reality of their daily existence. Their self-sovereignty in law as much as politics was active not abstract.
Over the course of the past decade, the behavioral analysis of decisions by the Supreme Court has turned to game theory to gain new insights into this important institution in American politics. Game theory highlights the role of strategic interactions between the Court and other institutions in the decisions the Court makes as well as in the relations among the justices as they make their decisions. Rather than assume that the justices’ votes reveal their sincere preferences, students of law and politics have come to examine how the strategic concerns of the justices lead to "sophisticated" behavior as they seek to maximize achievement of their goals when faced with constraints on their ability to do so. In Institutional Games and the U.S. Supreme Court, James Rogers, Roy Flemming, and Jon Bond gather various essays that use game theory to explain the Supreme Court's interactions with Congress, the states, and the lower courts. Offering new ways of understanding the complexity and consequences of these interactions, the volume joins a growing body of work that considers these influential interactions among various branches of the U.S. government. Contributors: Kenneth A. Shepsle, Andrew De Martin, James R. Rogers, Christopher Zorn, Georg Vanberg, Cliff Carrubba, Thomas Hammond, Christopher Bonneau, Reginald Sheehan, Charles Cameron, Lewis A. Kornhauser, Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, Matthew Stephenson, Stefanie A. Lindquist, Susan D. Haire, Lawrence Baum
Author: Martin J. Sweet
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
Merely Judgment uses affirmative action in government contracting, legislative vetoes, flag burning, hate speech, and school prayer as windows for understanding how Supreme Court decisions send signals regarding the Court’s policy preferences to institutions and actors (such as lower courts, legislatures, executive branches, and interest groups), and then traces the responses of these same institutions and actors to Court decisions. The lower courts nearly always abide by Supreme Court precedent, but, to a surprising degree, elected branches and other institutions avoid complying with Supreme Court decisions. To explain the persistence of unconstitutional policies and legislation, Sweet isolates the ability of institutions to derail the litigation process. Merely Judgment explores the mechanisms by which litigants and their peers have escaped from the clutches of litigation and thus effectively ignored, evaded, and trumped the Supreme Court.
Because the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court tell us what the Constitution means, they can create constitutional change. For quite some time, general readers who have been interested in understanding those changes have not had a concise volume that explores major decisions in which those changes occur. Traditional casebooks used in law schools typically pay scant attention to the historical and political context in which cases are decided, as well as the motives of litigants, the involvement of interest groups, and the justices’ concerns with policy outcomes, even though all these factors are critical to understanding the Court’s decisions. Other books do address these concerns, but they almost always focus on a single policy issue rather than on a broader range of constitutional conflicts that populate the Court’s docket. In order to make a wide range of decisions more accessible, Gregg Ivers and Kevin T. McGuire commissioned twenty-two outstanding scholars to write essays on a selected series of Supreme Court cases. Chosen for their contemporary relevance, most of the cases addressed in this informative reader are from the last half-century, extending right up through Bush v. Gore and the 2003 Michigan affirmative action cases. In each of these roughly two dozen cases, the authors address a number of questions that provide readers with a deeper understanding of the Court and its policies: How did the conflict originate? What role did organized interests have in the case? What did the litigants, personally and professionally, have at stake? What was the practical result of the Court’s decision? Did the Court respond to lobbying or public opinion? These detailed historical and personal accounts in this all-new collection of essays offer engaging and illuminating perspectives on law and politics.
The Supreme Court Bar
Author: Kevin T. McGuire
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
Who represents litigants in the Supreme Court of the United States? Kevin T. McGuire shows that the most sophisticated of them have the advantage of representation by an elite counsel made up of former clerks to the justices, alumni of the Office of the Solicitor General, partners in powerful Washington law firms, and public interest lawyers, all of whom serve as gatekeepers to the Court. In this study, the first to characterize the bar of the Supreme Court as a whole, McGuire uses survey, archival, and interview data to explore the history and social structure of the community of Supreme Court specialists. In so doing, he assesses the strategic politics of Supreme Court practice, the ways in which dominant litigators can shape the Court's decisions, and what the existence of such an elite implies for judicial fairness.
Author: Ran Hirschl
Publisher: Harvard University Press
In countries and supranational entities around the globe, constitutional reform has transferred an unprecedented amount of power from representative institutions to judiciaries. The constitutionalization of rights and the establishment of judicial review are widely believed to have benevolent and progressive origins, and significant redistributive, power-diffusing consequences. Ran Hirschl challenges this conventional wisdom. Drawing upon a comprehensive comparative inquiry into the political origins and legal consequences of the recent constitutional revolutions in Canada, Israel, New Zealand, and South Africa, Hirschl shows that the trend toward constitutionalization is hardly driven by politicians' genuine commitment to democracy, social justice, or universal rights. Rather, it is best understood as the product of a strategic interplay among hegemonic yet threatened political elites, influential economic stakeholders, and judicial leaders. This self-interested coalition of legal innovators determines the timing, extent, and nature of constitutional reforms. Hirschl demonstrates that whereas judicial empowerment through constitutionalization has a limited impact on advancing progressive notions of distributive justice, it has a transformative effect on political discourse. The global trend toward juristocracy, Hirschl argues, is part of a broader process whereby political and economic elites, while they profess support for democracy and sustained development, attempt to insulate policymaking from the vicissitudes of democratic politics.
Author: Mark Tushnet, Madhav Khosla
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
This book examines constitutional law and practice in five South Asian countries: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
Unveils the considerable policy-making powers of state supreme courts.
A history of the Warren Court and its impact on the political and legal system. Best known for its treatment of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, which Bickel believed was headed for obsolescence and abandonment. Based on the Oliver Wendell Holmes Lectures at Harvard Law School in 1969.
How oral arguments influence the decisions of Supreme Court justices.
Author: Todd C. Peppers
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
Written by former law clerks, legal scholars, biographers, historians, and political scientists, the essays in In Chambers tell the fascinating story of clerking at the Supreme Court. In addition to reflecting the personal experiences of the law clerks with their justices, the essays reveal how clerks are chosen, what tasks are assigned to them, and how the institution of clerking has evolved over time, from the first clerks in the late 1800s to the clerks of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Chief Justice William Rehnquist. In Chambers offers a variety of perspectives on the unique experience of Supreme Court clerks. Former law clerks—including Alan M. Dershowitz, Charles A. Reich, and J. Harvie Wilkinson III—write about their own clerkships, painting vivid and detailed pictures of their relationships with the justices, while other authors write about the various clerkships for a single justice, putting a justice's practice into a broader context. The book also includes essays about the first African American and first woman to hold clerkships. Sharing their insights, anecdotes, and experiences in a clear, accessible style, the contributors provide readers with a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the Supreme Court.
The basic strucure doctrine articulated by the Indian Supreme Court in 1973 made it amply clear that the basic features of the Constitution must remain inviolable. The doctrine has generatd serious debates ever since as it placed substantive and procedural limits on the amending powers of the Execuive. Despite the lack of clarity as to its nature, the scope of the doctrine has been broadened in recent years, and a wide range of state actions are covered in its purview. In this book, Krishnaswamy analyses its legitimacy in legal, moral and sociological terms, and argues that the doctrine has emerged from a valid interpretation of the constituitional provisions. This book will be of interest to scholars of Indian Constitutional law, political theory and jurisprudence as well as judges and legal practitioners.