In recent years the Supreme Court has been at the center of such political issues as abortion rights, the administration of police procedures, and the determination of the 2000 presidential election. The checks and balances provided by the three branches of federal government are essential to nurturing and maintaining American democracy. With the ...
In recent years the Supreme Court has been at the center of such political issues as abortion rights, the administration of police procedures, and the determination of the 2000 presidential election. The checks and balances provided by the three branches of federal government are essential to nurturing and maintaining American democracy. With the guidance of coeditors Kermit L. Hall and Kevin T. McGuire, this volume of essays examines the role of the Judicial Branch in American democracy and the dynamic between the other branches of government, compares international models, and discusses possible measures for reform. The Judicial Branch considers the impact of courts on American life and addresses such central questions as: Is the Supreme Court an institution of social justice? Is there a case for judicially created and protected social rights? Have the courts become sovereign when interpreting the Constitution? Essays examine topics that include the judiciary in the founding of the nation; turning points in the history of the American judicial system; the separation of powers between the other branches of government; how the Supreme Court resolves political conflicts through legal means; what Americans know about the judiciary and its functions; and whether the American scheme of courts is the best way to support democracy.
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The 5 part Institutions of American Democracy series is a brilliant compilation of some of the best modern minds on the subjects they tackle. The Judicial Branch is no less a noteworthy contribution to the series. The essays that comprise the volume are both scholarly and focused, without being elitist or written beyond the scope of the average American reader. Given the typical American?s understanding of the Judicial Branch, it is certainly very telling that the shortest essay/chapter is titled ?What Americans Know About the Court and why it Matters.? Each of the book?s nineteen essays cover various modern and historical concerns with the Judiciary. While invariably the writers of each chapter are notable experts in their respective fields, some readers will undoubtedly take issue with the authors? frequent discussions about judicial activism and other hot-button topics. There is certainly no doubt that most judicial ?activism? in the past has served the greater good for the average citizen. The book serves to cement this reality through repeated analysis of the court?s activist decisions, good and bad. Several cases are cited, some to exhaustion, but the writing suffers little from this repetition. Sue Davis?s chapter on discrimination and the Judiciary?s role in equality is well founded with respect to voter initiatives and the potential for a tyranny of the majority, but misses the mark on disenfranchisement of certain potential voting publics. Davis fails to understand the fundamental fact that illegal Mexican immigrants in the U.S. do indeed have voting rights, in Mexico. To suggest that the American system of disenfranchising them is racially motivated is unfortunate. This rejects the fact that illegal immigrants have forsaken the same U.S. legal system they wish to participate in and could do so legally although not expeditiously. Overwhelmingly, the book is excellent in its thorough study and scrutiny of the Judicial Branch and its history. Overall, it is an important work that certainly not enough people will read. I look forward to future works like this from the Annenberg Foundation Trust. REVIEW EVERY BOOK YOU READ. AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS DESERVE YOUR OPINIONS.
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