Full of thought, not above the average American.
by ryefish on May 28, 2007The 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.
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