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Over the last few decades, the Supreme Court and the federal appellate courts have undergone a dramatic shift to the right, the result of a determined effort by right-wing lawmakers and presidents to reinterpret the Constitution by reshaping the judiciary. Conservative activist justices have narrowed the scope of the Constitution, denying its protections to millions of Americans, exactly as the lawmakers who appointed and confirmed these jurists intended. Basic long-standing principles of constitutional law have been overturned by the Rehnquist and Roberts courts. As distinguished law professor and constitutional expert Erwin Chemerinsky demonstrates in this invaluable book, these changes affect the lives of every American. As a result of political pressure from conservatives and a series of Supreme Court decisions, our public schools are increasingly separate and unequal, to the great disadvantage of poor and minority students. Right-wing politicians and justices are dismantling the wall separating church and state, allowing ever greater government support for religion. With the blessing of the Supreme Court, absurdly harsh sentences are being handed down to criminal defendants, such as life sentences for shoplifting and other petty offenses. Even in death penalty cases, defendants are being denied the right to competent counsel at trial, and as a result innocent people have been convicted and sentenced to death. Right-wing politicians complain that government is too big and intrusive while at the same time they are only too happy to insert the government into the most intimate aspects of the private lives of citizens when doing so conforms to conservative morality. Conservative activist judges say that the Constitution gives people an inherent right to own firearms but not to make their own medical decisions. In some states it is easier to buy an assault rifle than to obtain an abortion. Nowhere has the conservative assault on the Constitution been more visible or more successful than in redefining the role of the president. From Richard Nixon to George W. Bush, conservatives have sought to significantly increase presidential power. The result in recent years has been unprecedented abuses, including indefinite detentions, illegal surveillance, and torture of innocent people. Finally, access to the courts is being restricted by new rulings that deny legal protections to ordinary Americans. Fewer lawsuits alleging discrimination in employment are heard; fewer people are able to sue corporations or governments for injuries they have suffered; and even when these cases do go to trial, new restrictions limit damages that plaintiffs can collect. The first step in reclaiming the protections of the Constitution, says Chemerinsky, is to recognize that right-wing justices are imposing their personal prejudices, not making neutral decisions about the scope of the Constitution, as they claim, or following the "original meaning" of the Constitution. Only then do we stand a chance of reclaiming our constitutional liberties from a rigid ideological campaign that has transformed our courts and our laws. Only then can we return to a constitutional law that advances freedom and equality.
A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice Shortlisted for the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize In the wake of Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 presidential election, a deeply reported look inside the conservative movement working to undermine American democracy Donald Trump is the second Republican this century to triumph in the Electoral College without winning the popular vote. As Zachary Roth reveals in The Great Suppression, this is no coincidence. Over the last decade, Republicans have been rigging the game in their favor. Twenty-two states have passed restrictions on voting. Ruthless gerrymandering has given the GOP a long-term grip on Congress. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has eviscerated campaign finance laws, boosting candidates backed by big money. It would be worrying enough if these were just schemes for partisan advantage. But the reality is even more disturbing: a growing number of Republicans distrust the very idea of democracy—and they’re doing everything they can to limit it. In The Great Suppression, Roth unearths the deep historical roots of this anti-egalitarian worldview, and introduces us to its modern-day proponents: The GOP officials pushing to make it harder to cast a ballot; the lawyers looking to scrap all limits on money in politics; the libertarian scholars reclaiming judicial activism to roll back the New Deal; and the corporate lobbyists working to ban local action on everything from the minimum wage to the environment. And he travels from Rust Belt cities to southern towns to show us how these efforts are hurting the most vulnerable Americans and preventing progress on pressing issues. A sharp, searing polemic in the tradition of Rachel Maddow and Matt Taibbi, The Great Suppression is an urgent wake-up call about a threat to our most cherished values, and a rousing argument for why we need democracy now more than ever.
A preeminent constitutional scholar offers a hard-hitting analysis of the Supreme Court over the last two hundred years Most Americans share the perception that the Supreme Court is objective, but Erwin Chemerinsky, one of the country’s leading constitutional lawyers, shows that this is nonsense and always has been. The Court is made up of fallible individuals who base decisions on their own biases. Today, the Roberts Court is promoting a conservative agenda under the guise of following a neutral methodology, but notorious decisions, such as Bush vs. Gore and Citizens United, are hardly recent exceptions. This devastating book details, case by case, how the Court has largely failed throughout American history at its most important tasks and at the most important times. Only someone of Chemerinsky’s stature and breadth of knowledge could take on this controversial topic. Powerfully arguing for term limits for justices and a reassessment of the institution as a whole, The Case Against the Supreme Court is a timely and important book that will be widely read and cited for decades to come. From the Hardcover edition.
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.
A nationally syndicated talk radio host presents a volume of essays for conservative leaders that recommends specific approaches to such issues as immigration, health care, and foreign policy.
Are you sitting down? It turns out that everything you learned about the First Amendment is wrong. For too long, we’ve been treating small, isolated snippets of the text as infallible gospel without looking at the masterpiece of the whole. Legal luminary Burt Neuborne argues that the structure of the First Amendment as well as of the entire Bill of Rights was more intentional than most people realize, beginning with the internal freedom of conscience and working outward to freedom of expression and finally freedom of public association. This design, Neuborne argues, was not to protect discrete individual rights—such as the rights of corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections—but to guarantee that the process of democracy continues without disenfranchisement, oppression, or injustice. Neuborne, who was the legal director of the ACLU and has argued numerous cases before the Supreme Court, invites us to hear the “music” within the form and content of Madison’s carefully formulated text. When we hear Madison’s music, a democratic ideal flowers in front of us, and we can see that the First Amendment gives us the tools to fight for campaign finance reform, the right to vote, equal rights in the military, the right to be full citizens, and the right to prevent corporations from riding roughshod over the weakest among us. Neuborne gives us an eloquent lesson in democracy that informs and inspires.
American liberals and conservatives alike take for granted a progressive view of the Constitution that took root in the early twentieth century. Richard Epstein laments this complacency which, he believes, explains America's current economic malaise and political gridlock. Steering clear of well-worn debates between defenders of originalism and proponents of a living Constitution, Epstein employs close textual reading, historical analysis, and political and economic theory to urge a return to the classical liberal theory of governance that animated the framers' original constitutional design. Grounded in the thought of Locke, Hume, Madison, and other Enlightenment figures, classical liberalism emphasized federalism, restricted government, separation of powers, and strong protection of individual rights. New Deal progressives challenged this synthesis by embracing government as a force for social good rather than a necessary evil. The Supreme Court has unwisely ratified the progressive program by sustaining many legislative initiatives at odds with the classical liberal Constitution. Epstein addresses both the Constitution's structural safeguards against state power and its protection of individual rights. He sheds light on contemporary disputes ranging from presidential prerogatives to health care legislation, while exploring such enduring topics as judicial review, economic regulation, freedom of speech and religion, and equal protection.

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