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In Defense of a Political Court. Hardcover – August 16, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0691009056 ISBN-10: 0691009058

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (August 16, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691009058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691009056
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,283,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A lively and original work. . . . I found the book thought provoking, and . . . I recommend it highly."--Thomas M. Keck, The Law and Politics Book Review

About the Author

Terri Jennings Peretti is Professor of Political Science at Santa Clara University.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Price on November 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Ever since legal realism triumphed over legal classicism in 1937, constitutional theorists have focused upon creating a theory that legitimizes judicial review by constraining judicial discretion within neutral limits. These scholars argue that "something" outside of the judges themselves must be found to constrain judicial discretion because, otherwise, unconstrained political decision-making violates democratic principles. In this persuasive book, Peretti argues that this legitimacy concern should be discarded and we should embrace the concept of a court deciding constitutional cases based upon political values and policy preferences.

Peretti first examines the various neutralist theories-including originalism, process theory, and noninterpretive theories-and finds that none are actually neutral in either theory or practice. Each theory is capable of a broad range of outcomes and thus judicial discretion is not constrained. After this excursion into constitutional theory, Peretti turns to empirical analysis in order to test the supposed deficiencies of a political court. She argues that democratic ends, political representation and responsiveness, are actually served by value-voting. Such voting relies upon consensus building and triggers political checks upon the Court's authority. Further, Peretti argues that the legitimacy problem is actually backwards: the public does not hold the Court in high regard and when it judges the Court it does so based on the outcome of the case and not reasoning, thus legitimacy is actually enhanced by embracing policy motivation since policy outcome is what the public considers anyway. Finally, Peretti argues that constitutional theorists base their concern on a mistaken definition of democracy.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Perretti breaks from conventional wisdom by asserting that the Supreme COurt is a political institution and not an objective, constitutional interpreter. By compiling a voluminous amount of evidence she brings to light some grim realities of the Supreme Court. She concludes by saying that a political court is of great value in a pluralistic system such as ours. For more information contact me EMAIL: shawnburton21@excite.com
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Format: Paperback
It's become accepted wisdom amongst political scientists that courts are political institutions. Fair enough. Peretti's book adds real value to the debate by taking us beyond that notion and showing how a political court could nonetheless function to the benefit of policy and politics. Removing the aura around constitutional law doesn't debase it or mean that the court is simply some odd deviation from democracy. Rather, the courts can provide politicians with valuable insight into appropriate policies, particularly by hearing the claims of underrepresented or marginalized groups. It's one of the strongest and most realistic attempts I've seen to both understand the court as a political institution and understand why the court's political nature isn't necessarily a threat.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Perretti breaks from conventional wisdom by asserting that the Supreme COurt is a political institution and not an objective, constitutional interpreter. By compiling a voluminous amount of evidence she brings to light some grim realities of the Supreme Court. She concludes by saying that a political court is of great value in a pluralistic system such as ours. For more information contact me EMAIL: shawnburton21@excite.com
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