Keeping Faith with the Constitution

Author: Goodwin Liu,Pamela S. Karlan,Christopher H. Schroeder

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780199752836

Category: Political Science

Page: 272

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Chief Justice John Marshall argued that a constitution "requires that only its great outlines should be marked [and] its important objects designated." Ours is "intended to endure for ages to come, and consequently, to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs." In recent years, Marshall's great truths have been challenged by proponents of originalism and strict construction. Such legal thinkers as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia argue that the Constitution must be construed and applied as it was when the Framers wrote it. In Keeping Faith with the Constitution, three legal authorities make the case for Marshall's vision. They describe their approach as "constitutional fidelity"--not to how the Framers would have applied the Constitution, but to the text and principles of the Constitution itself. The original understanding of the text is one source of interpretation, but not the only one; to preserve the meaning and authority of the document, to keep it vital, applications of the Constitution must be shaped by precedent, historical experience, practical consequence, and societal change. The authors range across the history of constitutional interpretation to show how this approach has been the source of our greatest advances, from Brown v. Board of Education to the New Deal, from the Miranda decision to the expansion of women's rights. They delve into the complexities of voting rights, the malapportionment of legislative districts, speech freedoms, civil liberties and the War on Terror, and the evolution of checks and balances. The Constitution's framers could never have imagined DNA, global warming, or even women's equality. Yet these and many more realities shape our lives and outlook. Our Constitution will remain vital into our changing future, the authors write, if judges remain true to this rich tradition of adaptation and fidelity.
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The Twilight of Human Rights Law

Author: Eric Posner

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199313466

Category: Political Science

Page: 224

View: 9598

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Countries solemnly intone their commitment to human rights, and they ratify endless international treaties and conventions designed to signal that commitment. At the same time, there has been no marked decrease in human rights violations, even as the language of human rights has become the dominant mode of international moral criticism. Well-known violators like Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan have sat on the U.N. Council on Human Rights. But it's not just the usual suspects that flagrantly disregard the treaties. Brazil pursues extrajudicial killings. South Africa employs violence against protestors. India tolerate child labor and slavery. The United States tortures. In The Twilight of Human Rights Law--the newest addition to Oxford's highly acclaimed Inalienable Rights series edited by Geoffrey Stone--the eminent legal scholar Eric A. Posner argues that purposefully unenforceable human rights treaties are at the heart of the world's failure to address human rights violations. Because countries fundamentally disagree about what the public good requires and how governments should allocate limited resources in order to advance it, they have established a regime that gives them maximum flexibility--paradoxically characterized by a huge number of vague human rights that encompass nearly all human activity, along with weak enforcement machinery that churns out new rights but cannot enforce any of them. Posner looks to the foreign aid model instead, contending that we should judge compliance by comprehensive, concrete metrics like poverty reduction, instead of relying on ambiguous, weak, and easily manipulated checklists of specific rights. With a powerful thesis, a concise overview of the major developments in international human rights law, and discussions of recent international human rights-related controversies, The Twilight of Human Rights Law is an indispensable contribution to this important area of international law from a leading scholar in the field.
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Cosmic Constitutional Theory

Why Americans Are Losing Their Inalienable Right to Self-Governance

Author: J. Harvie Wilkinson III

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199930074

Category: Law

Page: 176

View: 7915

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American constitutional law has undergone a transformation. Issues once left to the people have increasingly become the province of the courts. Subjects as diverse as abortion rights and firearms regulations, health care reform and counterterrorism efforts, not to mention a millennial presidential election, are more and more the domain of judges. What sparked this development? In this engaging volume, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson argues that America's most brilliant legal minds have launched a set of cosmic constitutional theories that, for all their value, are undermining self-governance. Thinkers as diverse as Justices William Brennan and Antonin Scalia, Professor John Hart Ely, Judges Robert Bork and Richard Posner, have all produced seminal interpretations of our Founding document, but ones that promise to imbue courts with unprecedented powers. While crediting the theorists for the sparkling quality of their thoughts, Judge Wilkinson argues they will slowly erode the role of representative institutions in America and leave our children bereft of democratic liberty. The loser in all the theoretical fireworks is the old and honorable tradition of judicial restraint. The judicial modesty once practiced by Learned Hand, John Harlan, and Oliver Wendell Holmes has given way to competing schools of liberal and conservative activism seeking sanctuary in Living Constitutionalism, Originalism, Process Theory, or the supposedly anti-theoretical creed of Pragmatism. Each of these seemingly disparate theories promises their followers an intellectually respectable route to congenial political outcomes from the bench. Judge Wilkinson calls for a plainer, simpler, self-disciplined commitment to judicial restraint and democratic governance, a course that alas may be impossible so long as the cosmic constitutionalists so dominate contemporary legal thought.
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On Constitutional Disobedience

Author: Louis Michael Seidman

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199898286

Category: Political Science

Page: 192

View: 7518

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What would the Framers of the Constitution make of multinational corporations? Nuclear weapons? Gay marriage? They led a preindustrial country, much of it dependent on slave labor, huddled on the Atlantic seaboard. The Founders saw society as essentially hierarchical, led naturally by landed gentry like themselves. Yet we still obey their commands, two centuries and one civil war later. According to Louis Michael Seidman, it's time to stop. In On Constitutional Disobedience, Seidman argues that, in order to bring our basic law up to date, it needs benign neglect. This is a highly controversial assertion. The doctrine of "original intent" may be found on the far right, but the entire political spectrum--left and right--shares a deep reverence for the Constitution. And yet, Seidman reminds us, disobedience is the original intent of the Constitution. The Philadelphia convention had gathered to amend the Articles of Confederation, not toss them out and start afresh. The "living Constitution" school tries to bridge the gap between the framers and ourselves by reinterpreting the text in light of modern society's demands. But this attempt is doomed, Seidman argues. One might stretch "due process of law" to protect an act of same-sex sodomy, yet a loyal-but-contemporary reading cannot erase the fact that the Constitution allows a candidate who lost the popular election to be seated as president. And that is only one of the gross violations of popular will enshrined in the document. Seidman systematically addresses and refutes the arguments in favor of Constitutional fealty, proposing instead that it be treated as inspiration, not a set of commands. The Constitution is, at its best, a piece of poetry to liberty and self-government. If we treat it as such, the author argues, we will make better progress in achieving both.
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More Essential than Ever

The Fourth Amendment in the Twenty First Century

Author: Stephen J. Schulhofer

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199752990

Category: Political Science

Page: 216

View: 3738

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When the states ratified the Bill of Rights in the eighteenth century, the Fourth Amendment seemed straightforward. It requires that government respect the right of citizens to be "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." Of course, "papers and effects" are now digital and thus more vulnerable to government spying. But the biggest threat may be our own weakening resolve to preserve our privacy. In this potent new volume in Oxford's Inalienable Rights series, legal expert Stephen J. Schulhofer argues that the Fourth Amendment remains, as the title says, more essential than ever. From data-mining to airport body scans, drug testing and aggressive police patrolling on the streets, privacy is under assault as never before--and we're simply getting used to it. But the trend is threatening the pillars of democracy itself, Schulhofer maintains. "Government surveillance may not worry the average citizen who reads best-selling books, practices a widely accepted religion, and adheres to middle-of-the-road political views," he writes. But surveillance weighs on minorities, dissenters, and unorthodox thinkers, "chilling their freedom to read what they choose, to say what they think, and to associate with others who are like-minded." All of us are affected, he adds. "When unrestricted search and surveillance powers chill speech and religion, inhibit gossip and dampen creativity, they undermine politics and impoverish social life for everyone." Schulhofer offers a rich account of the history and nuances of Fourth Amendment protections, as he examines such issues as street stops, racial profiling, electronic surveillance, data aggregation, and the demands of national security. The Fourth Amendment, he reminds us, explicitly authorizes invasions of privacy--but it requires justification and accountability, requirements that reconcile public safety with liberty. Combining a detailed knowledge of specific cases with a deep grasp of Constitutional law, More Essential than Ever offers a sophisticated and thoughtful perspective on this important debate.
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Keeping the Faith

A Cultural History of the U.S. Supreme Court

Author: John E. Semonche

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Pub Incorporated

ISBN: 9780847689859

Category: Law

Page: 499

View: 6304

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Looks at the influence of Supreme Court justices, cases, and decisions on American society
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