An excellent book, and great fun to read. It is lively, opinionated (in the best fashion), and full of new insights about every period in the Supreme Court's history. (Jack M. Balkin, Yale Law School)
A leading historian of the Supreme Court, Powe decries what he calls the Imperial Court, which he sees as overly concerned with solidifying its primacy through a series of pretentious opinions. He details a litany of cases in which the Rehnquist Court overturned positive, progressive, and proactive legislation designed to protect and improve society, instead turning to rigid interpretation in an overreaching attempt to stifle congressional authority, as granted by the Constitution. Powe links the Supreme Court's late 20th-century mindset change with the ascendancy of a Republican majority in Congress, which began with the 1994 elections and continued until the mid-term election of 2006. As the author convincingly argues, surfing waves of electoral sentiment is a bad move for a Court cognizant of its historical legacy, and it may some day regret its decisions to invalidate the Violence Against Women Act, strike down the Gun Free School Zones Act, and abrogate damage-remedy provisions under both the Age Discrimination and Americans with Disabilities Acts. (Philip Y. Blue Library Journal
Powe has certainly written a book that is entertaining, quirky, idiosyncratic, fun to read, and more than occasionally insightful. It does blend together legal doctrine and American politics, and as a result the history is richer--and more complete--than the usual account. (Lawrence M. Friedman American Prospect
About the Author
Lucas A. Powe, Jr. holds the Anne Green Regents Chair at the University of Texas, where he teaches in the School of Law and the Department of Government.