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Narrowing the Nation's Power: The Supreme Court Sides with the States Paperback – August 1, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; New Ed edition (August 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520240685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520240681
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 6.3 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,207,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is a readable introduction to a legal issue that may sound obscure but in fact has an impact on issues relating to discrimination and other important areas of the law. Noonan, a senior federal appellate judge, dissects an emerging trend in recent Supreme Court decisions bolstering the sovereign immunity of the 50 states that is, saying the states and their many agencies (including state-funded universities, for example) are immune from lawsuits by individuals for money damages. Writing as a historian, Noonan examines the common-law origins of the doctrine that a sovereign monarch is immune from suit; he finds the doctrine absent from the Constitution. Nevertheless, as he recounts, a connected series of cases decided by the Supreme Court since 1997 has invoked sovereign immunity. For example, the Court has decided that individuals may not recover compensation from states (or from many state-related entities) for patent infringement or for discrimination on the basis of age or disability. Similarly, federal laws granting remedies for violence against women or protecting religious freedom cannot be enforced by individuals suing a state. Writing as an advocate, Noonan briefs the case against what he views as the Court's sudden expansion of sovereign immunity. Not only does state immunity lack a constitutional basis, Noonan argues, but the doctrine also improperly interferes with Congress's power to enact protections for Americans on a national scale. Noonan concludes that sovereign immunity is an outmoded abstraction, disconnected from concrete injustices inflicted by the states, and remains "without justification of any kind today." Noonan's compressed and subtle treatment of current immunity jurisprudence should trigger further debate on this important area of law.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Written in an informal style, federal appellate judge Noonan's current work attempts to warn all citizens of a dangerous direction taken by the current Supreme Court. The issue in contention is as old as our republic: the rights of the individual states vs. the power of federal authority. What is new is the conservative majority's use of the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to justify the expansion of the sovereign immunity enjoyed by each of the 50 states. According to Noonan, this concept has become the Court's way of restricting the powers of Congress and enlarging the areas where the states can escape effective federal control. The author traces the history of the 11th Amendment to the era of Chief Justice John Marshall, who properly noted that in the nation's early years, all 13 states were debtors, and because some of the creditors were aliens, the states needed and were granted immunity from lawsuits by individual citizens for reasons that no longer exist. The Court's current claim that the sovereignty of the states is constitutional, notes the author, rests on a disingenuous interpretation of both the legislative history of the amendment and its subsequent application. As a result, individual states are now immune from suits impacting finance, debt, injury, patent and copyright infringement, employment discrimination, and gender bias. In this highly recommended work, the author convincingly sounds the alarm.
Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Lib., New York
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Joe Zika TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Narrowing the Nation's Power: The Supreme Court Sides with the States written by John T. Noonan, Jr. is a book about the current Supreme Court and the 11th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
What I found interesting is that the author writes in a style that is easily understood and the book is well-documented as he explains how the Supreme Court is swaying toward the States vs. Federal in its thinking. This is an age old debate whether to be more States Rights of Federal in thinking and to interpretation of the law. Ever since the government of the United States has been formed this debate has been around.
Does the Supreme Court systematically thwart justice to American through a states rights policy? The author makes a strong case and backs his judgement with case studies.
This book takes complex legal doctrine and makes it enjoyable to read. To better understand the laws of the land we have the courts and the final say rests with the Supreme Court. The book explains some of these cases... states' immunity in age discrimination, disability discrimination, and violation of patents, trademarks, copyrights, and fair labor... insulation from paying damages, are just a few of the case torts reviewed in this book.
The lawyer-ese is at a minimum so the layperson can get a good idea as to what and the why things are as they are. So, if you like reading about the laws that affect our daily lives this is a good book to start with.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Seth Cooper on March 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book comes as a disappointment. Prior to reading of Narrowing the Nation's Power, I had perused several reviews of it-some praising it and some panning it-and I was actually expecting to really enjoy the book and agree with all of its arguments. Unfortunately, I found myself underwhelmed after reading it.
The problem here is not that Senior Judge John Noonan lacks a great intellect-he is an experienced and respected academic and jurist. Nor is Judge Noonan a bad writer. I had read his book on "masks" the month before this work, and thoroughly enjoyed Judge Noonan's scholarship and insights.
The problem with Judge Noonan's book is that it is a lost opportunity. There ARE some very legitimate criticisms to be made of the U.S. Supreme Court's state sovereign immunity jurisprudence. Likewise, serious issues abound concerning the Supreme Court's claim to judicial supremacy as well as its employment of "balancing tests" in Section 5 (14th Amendment) cases, and in other cases. However, many of Judge Noonan's better points and critiques in these matters are obscured and lost by his incessant railing against the motives and hidden agendas of the justices with whom he disagrees.
Judge Noonan is to be praised for correctly noting that: "To make `federalism' a slogan for states' rights is to contort the original meaning and to suppress the national component in the original design.
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Format: Paperback
4032 Narrowing the Nation's Power The Supreme Court Sides with the States, by John T. Noonan, Jr. (read 2 June 2005) Noonan is a favorite of mine, and the four books I previously read by him (Contraception: A History of Its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists, by John T. Noonan, Jr. (read 5 Jun 1967), Power to Dissolve: Lawyers and Marriages in the Courts of the Roman Curia, by John T. Noonan, Jr. (read 16 Jun 1973)(Book of the Year), The Lustre of Our Country: The American Experience of Religious Freedom, by John T. Noonan, Jr. (read 24 Jan 2001),and The Scholastic Analysis of Usury, by John T. Noonan, Jr. (read 25 May 2005)) were really worth reading, one of them being the best book I read in 1973. This book is a 2002 book attacking the Supreme Court conservative majority's embracement of sovereign immunity, which is that Congress cannot legislate in ways limiting the states, grounded on the 11th Amendment. He assails City of Roene v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507, which held the Religious Freedom Restoration Act unconstitutional because congruence and proportionality had not been exercised by Congress--a finding reminiscent of the pre-New Deal days when the Court threw out legislation because the Court did not like it. This is a stunningly well-argued book by a leading conservative thinker in which the five person Rehnquist-voting conservative majority on the Court is shown to be 'activist' and non-respectful of Congress and laws it passes. A really thought-inducing book.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Judge Noonan does not need to hide behind difficult-to-understand legalese in order to expose the Rehnquist Court's 5-4 judicial activism. The book puts a human face on the individuals whose rights have been ignored by a bare majority of justices who are more interested in protecting the "dignity" of the States than the dignity of the People -- though that concern for State "dignity" was not apparent when the same 5 justices decided Bush v. Gore. Any educated reader will easily understand Judge Noonan's description of the Rehnquist Court's outrageous activisim -- a critique all the more stinging becausae it comes from a Reagan-appointed judge who has never been accused of being a "liberal." As Judge Noonan observes, the 5 justices' "intepretation" of the Constitution seems more like an interpretation of the Articles of Confederation -- a document that failed to provide for an effective and independant federal government, thereby requiring enactment of the Constitution in order to preserve the United States. Highly recommended for all -- but especially recommended for lawyers and law students, who need to understand this revolutionary return to the properly discredited States Rights movement.
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