Automotive Holiday Deals Books Gift Guide Books Gift Guide Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Prime Music Sweepstakes egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Beauty Deals Gifts for Her Find the Best Purina Pro Plan for Your Pet Amazon Gift Card Offer cm15 cm15 cm15 $30 Off Amazon Echo $30 Off Fire HD 6 Kindle Cyber Monday Deals Holiday Music in CDs & Vinyl Outdoor Deals on DOTD

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Democracy and Distrust: A Theory of Judicial Review (Harvard Paperbacks) New Ed Edition

9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674196377
ISBN-10: 0674196376
Why is ISBN important?
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy used On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
$6.69 On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
Buy new On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
$33.00 On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
More Buying Choices
25 New from $26.07 53 Used from $2.71
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student

Crippled America by Donald J. Trump
"Crippled America" by Donald J. Trump
Check out Crippled America, Donald Trump's blueprint for how to Make America Great Again. Learn more | See related books
$33.00 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 9 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Democracy and Distrust: A Theory of Judicial Review (Harvard Paperbacks)
  • +
  • The Least Dangerous Branch: The Supreme Court at the Bar of Politics
Total price: $65.00
Buy the selected items together

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • Take an Extra 30% Off Any Book: Use promo code HOLIDAY30 at checkout to get an extra 30% off any book for a limited time. Excludes Kindle eBooks and Audible Audiobooks. Restrictions apply. Learn more | Shop now

Editorial Reviews


The single most important contribution to the American theory of judicial review written in this century. (Henry P. Monaghan Columbia Law School)

Democracy and Distrust will have a wide influence for a long time...Ely writes simply and engaginly with a sense of humor. Yet the reader had better keep his wits about him lest he miss the subtleties. Much of the charm is in the author's candor in facing hard questions. Much of it lies in his good common sense. (Archibald Cox Harvard Law Review)

Wry, witty, and endowed with both dignity and informality. Would that more lawyers (including judges) could write half so well. (Telford Taylor New York Times Book Review)

This is the most important book about law in at least fifteen years. It is a great book...In developing his new and exciting theory, Ely spins off important insights like sparks from a generator. (Daniel J. Kornstein New York Law Journal)

This is the rare book that lives up to its dust-cover raves. (Andrew L. Kaufman Harvard Law School)

Product Details

  • Series: Harvard Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; New Ed edition (August 10, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674196376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674196377
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #489,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By George P. Shadroui on July 11, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This excellent little book tries to find a middle ground between the judicial activism advocated by Ronald Dworkin, for example, and the strict original intent approach eloquently defended by Robert Bork. Philosophy of jurisprudence is not always a concept easily grasped, however. In the first chapter, Ely takes us through the discussion of where and how judges drive their activist approach through the door. Ely agrees that the due process clause of the constitution is not the place where an activist jurist should hang his hat. The due process clause, he argues, is concerned strictly with procedural matters, though it can be forcefully enforced within that context. Likewise, he argues, the 14th amendment, with its equality clause and privileges and immunities clause, also has been used to broadly expand judicial oversight on a number of issues. Again, Ely dissents by arguing that the 9th amendment is the more appropriate vehicle because of the procedure issue that constrains the due process clause as well in the 14th amendment.
Judicial review must be rooted in some kind of context - but the noninterpretivist must choose, traditionally, from a long list of inadequate places: individual values of a jurist is inadequate; natural law is vague, as is moral philosophy generally; consensus is imprecise and debatable and neutral principle is damn near impossible to define. He roots his own support of Warren court in participation, which is rooted in our very notion of democracy. His phrase: "participatory responsiveness." We need not grasp at high moral claims to justify supporting civil rights, but in the simple idea that what is available to the majority, must be equally available to the minority.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By P. Mann VINE VOICE on January 16, 1998
Format: Paperback
Professor John Hart Ely's "Democracy and Distrust" is, quite simply, one of the great books about American constitutional law. Ely's task, to come up with a cohesive and coherent theory for judicial review, is far from a simple task, and yet his writing is so smooth and easy that the task *seems* easy. It is relatively easy to summarize Ely's general theory in few words. He argues that the American process is essentially democratic and that the role of the courts should be to police that process. In particular, Ely focuses on the voting-rights amendments, the First Amendment (as speech is essential to a free and open democracy), and the protection of "discrete and insular minorities."
What is perhaps most startling about Ely's work is that, despite the fact that he comes from what may accurately be termed a liberal perspective, he rejects fundamental values as a means of making constitutional law. This rejection is particularly surprising in that so many of the liberal constitutional advances have come in the name of fundamental values. Yet Ely makes his case persuasively, listing and rejecting many of the possible bases for such values (from natural law to the judges' own values to consensus, e.g.).
"Democracy and Distrust" is an eminently accessible book for anyone with even a small background in constitutional law. Though the book would probably be beyond the ken of high-school students or college undergraduates without any exposure to legal thought, certainly no degree in law is required to understand the book. Ely aptly avoids excessive legal jargon and outlines his theory in language designed to persuade, not to impress.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
John Ely's masterpiece on the the proper scope of judicial review is a must-read for anyone interested in the Supreme Court or just law in general. In short, Ely feels the Court should limit its power to assuring adequate access to the political process for all and not to giving answers to substantive issues such as abortion, affirmative action, economic rights, etc. In short, the book is a strong defense of the activism of the Warren Court (Ely clerked for Chief Justice Earl Warren and the book is dedicated to his memory). Though the emphasis on the work of the Warren Court may make the book seem a little outdated, the book is nevertheless relevant since it provides a partial justification for the abandonment of substantive due process that conservatives such as Antonin Scalia and Robert Bork have argued for in the 80's and 90's while at the same time defending certain types of judicial activism (for example, in voting rights or gay rights cases) that appeal to liberals. Though Ely's insights into constitutional law are brilliant (his corpus of law review articles from the 70's, many of which form the foundation for this book, provides some of the most well-thought arguments on many diverse areas of constitutional scholarship), his arguments are not without their weakpoints (though you may have to read the book a few times to find them- not a bad idea in any case). Specifically, the manner in which he derives his so-called "representation reinforcement" theory is problematic.Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
Democracy and Distrust: A Theory of Judicial Review (Harvard Paperbacks)
This item: Democracy and Distrust: A Theory of Judicial Review (Harvard Paperbacks)
Price: $33.00
Ships from and sold by

Want to discover more products? Check out this page to see more: civil procedure