By Anna Harvey

ISBN-10: 0300171110

ISBN-13: 9780300171112

Introductory textbooks on American govt let us know that the superb court docket is self reliant from the elected branches and that autonomous courts greater shield rights than their extra deferential opposite numbers. yet are those evidence or myths?
In this groundbreaking new paintings, Anna Harvey studies proof displaying that the perfect court docket is actually terribly deferential to congressional personal tastes in its constitutional rulings. studying cross-national proof, Harvey additionally reveals that the rights protections we get pleasure from within the usa seem to be principally when you consider that we don't have an self sustaining ideal courtroom. actually, we might most probably have even higher protections for political and monetary rights have been we to ban our federal courts from workout judicial evaluate altogether. Harvey’s findings recommend that constitutional designers will be clever to heed Thomas Jefferson’s suggestion to “let mercy be the nature of the law-giver, yet permit the pass judgement on be an insignificant machine.”

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Extra info for A Mere Machine: The Supreme Court, Congress, and American Democracy

Example text

In fact, none of these alternative causal factors have any consistent association with the Court’s rulings in cases involving constitutional challenges to federal statutes, regardless of the specification used. While it may still be the case that our measurements of these alternative factors are flawed, or that there remain some unidentified factors that are “really” driving the apparent association between the preferences of House majorities and the Court’s judgments, the currently available data do not support any of the plausible alternative explanations.

We have no estimates of the effects of elected branch preferences on the Court’s rulings in these cases. Several of these cases, generally involving constitutional rulings by the Warren Court on state and local actions, are frequently cited as evidence of the Court’s independence. Ronald Dworkin, for example, cited Brown v. S. 294 (1954), and Griswold v. S. 59 Justice Stephen Breyer points to Cooper v. 60 It is possible that our estimates of the Court’s deference to elected branch preferences do not generalize to such cases.

Nobody really knew what. But quite suddenly observers witnessed a Court that was jettisoning decades of constitutional jurisprudence in favor of radically more conservative doctrines. Many divided the Rehnquist Court into two eras: the “first” Rehnquist Court of the 1986 through the 1993 terms and the “second” Rehnquist Court from the 1994 through the 2004 terms. 51 These two very different portraits of the Rehnquist Court indicate that we should perhaps take a second look at the quantitative studies of the Supreme Court’s independence.

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A Mere Machine: The Supreme Court, Congress, and American Democracy by Anna Harvey

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