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The Conservative Assault on the Constitution Hardcover – September 28, 2010
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—Linda Greenhouse, Lecturer, Yale Law School; former New York Times Supreme Court correspondent
"Our Constitution depends on the courts to keep it alive; we all depend on Erwin Chemerinsky to remind us why that is so important. This book is essential reading for anyone who cares about preserving our constitutional birthright."
—Susan N. Herman, President, American Civil Liberties Union
About the Author
He is the author of Constitutional Law: Principles and Policies, a widely used law school textbook.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
I believe the most important aspect of the book is how clearly Chemerinsky is able to demonstrate that there really is no one way interpret the Constitution. Put on talk radio today and you are sure to hear something like "if you believe in the Constitution, we have to do x y z." But a belief in the Constitution does not dictate obvious policy choices. Instead, the Constitution is written in often vague and broad language that does not answer a specific fact scenario. For example, the First Amendment does not mention anything about prayer in schools, but mentions that government should not establish religion. The Supreme Court decides whether or not the establishment clause prohibits prayer in schools, and really the answer is not obvious. Many of the most important Supreme Court decisions are decided by a 5-4 vote. This means that 4 of the most educated, intelligent, and informed legal minds in the country, obviously experts on Constitutional law, thought the other 5 justices were misinterpreting the Constitution. But from that moment on, the 5 Justices have the correct interpretation, and the 4 Justices the incorrect.
Constitutional law greatly impacts our lives.Read more ›
That's just one example. He takes separation of church and state, habeas corpus rights and personal privacy and gives a historical account of each, showing how the increasingly conservative court, while decrying "judicial activism," has actually been consistently activist on issues that involved conservative ideology, overturning previous decisions with abandon, while claiming smugly that they are respectful of previous decisions.
The most damning point he makes is the two-faced posture of the Gang of Four(Scalia, Roberts, Alito and Thomas). On the one hand they pretend to be strict constructionists, limiting individual's rights to those explicitly enumerated in the Constitution and its amendments. For example, they ruled against a victim of police negligence whose children were murdered by an ex-spouse after she asked for protection and the cops didn't bother to take any action, saying that the Constitution does not guarantee police competence (or words to that effect) but they were adamant in the recent ruling that corporations have the rights of individuals as far as campaign spending is concerned...clearly not a "right" explicitly granted in the Constitution. Ideology trumps principles with these guys. Real hypocrites!
This is a very dense book, and the reader must have an interest in the details of case law and legal precedents to stay with it. I recommend it highly to anyone with those interests.
Overall, this is a work that any reasonably minded person should read in order to be more informed and aware of how the Supreme Court's works may affect every citizen's life.
He sounds the the way he always does: Possessed of an uncanny and almost omniscient grasp of recent Supreme Court decisions. But what can he tell us about how conservatives have hijacked the courts and turned the Constitution into a necromancer's spell?
The story is by now familiar to all practitioners. Beginning with President Richard Nixon, the right has taken aim at the courts, the Supreme Court in particular. It has created an ideology all its own, originalism, and has transformed it into a cloak used to advance a very contemporary agenda: support for school desegregation has eroded, as have the rights of those accused of crime. Although we give lip service to federalism, the power of the federal government has grown at the expense of the people. The courts are increasingly friendly to big business and hostile to civil rights claims. Anyone who has practiced law during the past 20 years has watched the courts drift further and further to the right.
I was encouraged to see Chemerinsky chronicle this trend. I am so caught up in individual cases I often fail to see the larger picture. I know that civil rights claims rarely make it to a jury trial any longer.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Chemerinsky is a truly brilliant legal scholar and I find his critique to be spot on.Published 11 months ago by audgen
A very well researched and well written book that details many of the ways that right-wing extremists have been working steadily to dismantle many of the Constitutional protections... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Tod Gemuese
Chemerinsky (Chimera-in-Sky) is a prime example of the phenomenon of an intelligent man who chooses to be out of touch with reality. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Marvelous Mal
Chemerinsky has also written and published many Constitutional Law text books. They are well written, structured and for the serious reader of Constitutional law, an absolute... Read morePublished 20 months ago by always question
It is the best explanation I've heard about the legal reasoning in the Supreme Court and the flaws in some of that reasoning.Published 22 months ago by Arthur
Informative and intriguing read! Great for any age! Got it for my graduate studies and read through it in no time! A combination of storytelling and fact presenting!Published on December 18, 2012 by J. Dalla
Every voter should read this book. Having lived through the changes initiated by the Nixon appointments, it is useful to have a concise summary of the persistent assault in a... Read morePublished on August 27, 2012 by Amazon Customer
I have not read this book, but I can tell from only the description that is is an absolute fairy tale and full of lies. Read morePublished on July 3, 2012 by conan