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Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy: The Presidency, the Supreme Court, and Constitutional Leadership in U.S. History (Princeton Studies in American Politics) Hardcover – March 25, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0691096407 ISBN-10: 0691096406

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Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Studies in American Politics
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (March 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691096406
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691096407
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,362,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 2008 J. David Greenstone Award, Politics and History Section of the American Political Science Association

Winner of the 2008 C. Herman Pritchett Award, Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association

"Filled with numerous examples and insightful analysis, Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes guide to the politics of judicial review that is impressive in both scope and depth."--Harvard Law Review

"The book has the depth and breadth of scholarship that we have come to expect from Whittington. He draws on a rich study of history to support a thesis that builds from various literatures in political science generally and the study of courts in particular. Whittington writes with clarity, precision and grace and should be read, if only as a model of what scholarly work should be.... Whittington makes an important contribution to our understanding of the development of American political institutions and raises interesting questions about the shape those institutions might take."--Kenneth Ward, The Law and Politics Book Review

"Whittington has written a marvelous book that challenges two axioms of American political thought; the assumed constitutional basis of judicial supremacy and the Marbury 'myth' of judicial review. What distinguishes Whittington's effort from a thousand other analyses of the Court's place in American constitutional practice is his embrace of an explicitly political, as opposed to legalistic, approach to the subject."--M. E. Bailey, Choice

"Whittington's masterful account captures a hidden, selfish dynamic of constitutional politics."--Aziz Huq, New York Law Journal

"In his wonderfully written and insightful analysis of constitutional review and judicial supremacy in the United States, Keith Whittington takes the reader on a historical journey from the earliest years of the nation through the present day. Through his examination, Whittington provides ample evidence in support of his thesis that it is not so much the United States Supreme Court that has laid claim to judicial supremacy in constitutional interpretation as it is the elected branches of government and the executive, in particular, that have seen it in their own interest to assert that the Court is the ultimate authority on the Constitution."--Christine L. Nemacheck, Perspectives on Politics

"[T]his book stands out as the best and most sophisticated study of the problem of 'who interprets' in the American context."--Walter Murphy, Law and History Review

"Whittington's book is a perfect fit for both undergraduate and graduate courses on judicial process, constitutional law and theory, and jurisprudence. . . . Whittington continues to demonstrate why he is one of today's most important constitutional scholars. Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy is essential reading for anyone interested in American politics. Meticulously researched, grounded in the scholarly literature, yet accessible to the nonacademic, the author's arguments are important for anyone seeking an understanding of how the presidency, Congress, and the Supreme Court interact to construct constitutional meaning."--Artemus Ward, Congress & the Presidency

"Whittington's book explores a fascinating issue and provides a variety of insights into the relationship between presidents the Supreme Court."--R. Shep Melnick, Journal of Politics

From the Inside Flap

"Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy takes us deeper than ever before into the changing structure and politics of inter-branch relations. Historically comprehensive and analytically astute, Whittington's sweeping reformulation of the role of the Supreme Court alters our entire view of American government."--Stephen Skowronek, Yale University

"This extremely important study lays out the ways in which the U.S. tradition of judicial supremacy receives support from elected representatives. Whittington's arguments are elegant, clearly presented, and persuasive."--Mark Tushnet, Harvard Law School

"This is a major work by a major scholar. Whittington highlights for the first time unnoticed patterns in the political construction of judicial power and the growth of judicial authority in the United States. The historical evidence is complete and compelling."--Mark Graber, University of Maryland

More About the Author

Keith E. Whittington is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University. His work on American constitutional law, theory and politics, federalism, judicial politics, and the presidency has been published widely in books, scholarly journals, and elsewhere. He is a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and winner of the J. David Greenstone Award and the C. Herman Pritchett Award, among other honors.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Enjolras TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 8, 2011
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Why many legal scholars focus on judicial review as a branch of political philosophy, Whittington engages the more interesting question of why the other branches of government, especially the president, would accept the Supreme Court as the final interpreter of constitutional law. Whittington argues that there are self-interested strategic reasons for a president to accept the court, including the possibility of influencing the court to interpret the constitution in a manner more in line with his own policy preferences. Whittington writes clearly and for a general audience. This is political science, but without the jargon and technical methodology.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Griswold VINE VOICE on April 28, 2011
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Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy by Keith Whittington is a thoroughly detailed history of the foundations of judicial supremacy from the republics beginings through the second Bush presidency. Whittington argues that the percieved power and influence of the Supreme Court is actually tied into how much power the executive branch and Congress allow them to have. This reveals a fasinating discussion of constructionist and deconstructionist regimes and Whittington argues that in periods of percieved weakness of the other branches that the Supreme Court may take a more active role in policy formation. On the other hand, the rare constructive president has a chance to reconstruct the constitutional order if he's popularly elected and is confronted with a decaying previous regime like FDR. Overall a very detail based accounting of constitutional regimes and political power that will most likely require multiple readings, but it presents a very unique argument.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ars.l. on September 11, 2012
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the best and most effective way to get a deep and thorough understanding of the politics of the United States of America
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