Slavery, segregation, abortion, worker's rights, the power of the courts. These issues have been at the heart of the greatest constitutional controversies in American history. And in this concise and thought-provoking volume, some of today's most distinguished legal scholars and commentators explain for a general audience how five landmark Supreme Court cases centered on those controversies shaped the country's destiny and continue to affect us even now. The book is a profound exploration of the Supreme Courts importance to America's social and political life. It is also, as many of the contributors show, an intriguing reflection of what some have seen as an important trend in legal scholarship away from an uncritical belief in the essentially benign nature of judicial power.
Robert George opens with an illuminating survey of the themes that unite and divide the five cases. Other contributors then examine each case in detail through a lively commentary-and-response format. Mark Tushnet and Jeremy Waldron exchange views on Marbury v. Madison, the pivotal 1803 case that established the power of the courts to invalidate legislation. Cass Sunstein and James Macpherson discuss Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857), the notorious case that confirmed the rights of slaveowners, declared that black people could not be American citizens, and is often seen as a cause the Civil War. Hadley Arkes and Donald Drakemen explore the legacy of Lochner v. New York (1905), a case that ushered in decades of judicial hostility to social welfare laws. Earl Maltz and Walter Murphy assess Brown v. Topeka Board of Education (1954), the famous case that ended racial segregation in public schools. Finally, Jean BethkeElshtain and George Will tackle Roe v. Wade (1973), still a flashpoint a quarter of a century later in the debate over abortion. While some of the contributors show sympathy for strong judicial interventions on social issues, many across the ideological spectrum are sharply critical of judicial activism.
A compelling introduction to the greatest cases in U.S. constitutional law, this is also an enlightening glimpse of the state of the art in American legal scholarship.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Introduction / Robert P. George
Ch. 1. Marbury v. Madison and the Theory of Judicial Supremacy / Mark Tushnet
Ch. 2. "Despotism in Some Form": Marbury v. Madison / Jeremy Waldron
Ch. 3. Dred Scott v. Sandford and Its Legacy / Cass R. Sunstein
Ch. 4. Politics and Judicial Responsibility Dred Scott v. Sandford / James M. McPherson
Ch. 5. Lochner v. New York and the Cast of Our Laws / Hadley Arkes
Ch. 6. The Substance of Process: Lochner v. New York / Donald Drakeman
Ch. 7. Brown v. Board of Education and "Originalism" / Earl Maltz
Ch. 8. Originalism - The Deceptive Evil: Brown v. Board of Education / Walter F. Murphy
Ch. 9. Roe v. Wade: Speaking the Unspeakable / Jean Bethke Elshtain
Ch. 10. Judicial Power and Abortion Politics: Roe v. Wade / George Will.
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