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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading for "The People"
Because U.S. Supreme Court justices have effective life tenure under the federal Constitution, the high court has long been viewed as a undemocratic institution in our society. The "countermajoritarian" nature of the Court has been a cause both for censure and celebration. On the one hand, the Court has been faulted for sitting as a "superlegislature," in which five...
Published on September 29, 2009 by Billy Stoneham

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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Informative, but flawed.
The book is historically informative, but the theory is a little questionable. At certain points in history, the author clearly stretches and omits certain facts to fit within the neat little theory. At other times, the theory makes sense, but only when it's a platitude. Read it for the anecdotes, but don't expect a mind blowing academic discovery.
Published on January 15, 2011 by Dan


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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading for "The People", September 29, 2009
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Because U.S. Supreme Court justices have effective life tenure under the federal Constitution, the high court has long been viewed as a undemocratic institution in our society. The "countermajoritarian" nature of the Court has been a cause both for censure and celebration. On the one hand, the Court has been faulted for sitting as a "superlegislature," in which five (out of nine) middle-aged to elderly judges can strike down the enactments of democratically elected bodies. On the other hand, a counter-majoritarian Court has been seen as a bulwark for fundamental liberties or powerless minorities whose status should not be determined by a popular vote.

Friedman's book renovates this well-rehearsed debate by challenging its core premise. Taking a broad yet detailed historical perspective, he observes that the Supreme Court is rarely out of sync with popular opinion. Under this view, both the demerits and the merits of judicial review will be dampened. The Court is not as susceptible to the charge that it is an activist institution out of touch with the polity. At the same time, it is also not as worthy of praise as an institution that can protect rights and groups from majority whims.

The book is a fascinating sociological study of the Court. It is also an important theoretical work that shows how unelected officials are held indirectly accountable to the people. Most of all, it is a call to reflect and act that is all the more effective for not coming to us as a polemic. This book argues that what we as individual citizens believe, say, and do affects the meaning of the Constitution. It addresses us all, which is why we all should read it.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure to read, November 16, 2011
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Not often said about books assigned for class, but this one was great. Mr. Friedman does an excellent job at showing the development of the Supreme Court into how we know it today.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "What is the role of the Supreme Court?", October 7, 2011
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ROROTOKO (New York, NY 10274) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Will of the People: How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution (Paperback)
This book is on the Rorotoko list. Professor Friedman's interview on "The Will of the People" ran as the Rorotoko Cover Feature on April 4, 2011 (and can be read in the Rorotoko archive).
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Informative, but flawed., January 15, 2011
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The book is historically informative, but the theory is a little questionable. At certain points in history, the author clearly stretches and omits certain facts to fit within the neat little theory. At other times, the theory makes sense, but only when it's a platitude. Read it for the anecdotes, but don't expect a mind blowing academic discovery.
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