- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press (May 15, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674008316
- ISBN-13: 978-0674008311
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Constitution and the New Deal
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From Library Journal
White (law and history, Univ. of Virginia), the author of several books on constitutional law, most notably The Marshall Court and Cultural Change, 1815-1835, offers a revisionist analysis of early 20th-century constitutional law and culture concerning New Deal "constitutional revolution" and Court-packing narratives. Emphasizing U.S. Supreme Court political economy cases from the 1920s through the 1940s, he advances "an alternate explanation for 'revolutionary'changes in the Supreme Court's interpretation of constitutional provisions." White challenges the conventional account of other historians of early 20th-century constitutional history and the New Deal "constitutional revolution" in modern politics. He pays particular attention to changes in the Supreme Court Justices' attitudes toward constitutional review of the nation's governing principles. White's broader, alternate picture of New Deal constitutional jurisprudence is a worthy challenge to conventional historical and jurisprudential interpretations of the New Deal. Highly recommended for academic libraries. Steven Puro, St. Louis Univ.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
White's expressed intent is to complicate conventional historical narratives on American jurisprudence and constitutional law by noting the starting premises, if not biases, of those earlier narratives. He explores the role of the legal elite--who believed that ordinary rules did not apply to them--in interpreting the constitution during the New Deal era. But White is primarily concerned with the conventional accounts of the New Deal's reflecting a new era in constitutional law and interpretation that have influenced U.S. governance, for example, a more activist role for the federal government as economic regulator and an aggressive executive branch role in foreign policy. White asserts that historical analysis does not support that these changes in constitutional law were exclusively or predominately attributed to the New Deal era. Yet, the conventional accounts continue to resonate because of a general perception of the New Deal as a symbolic historic episode, with strong cultural associations that tend to distort historical realities. This is a worthy book not only for readers interested in constitutional history but for those interested in the cultural complexities of the U.S. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
The 376 pages of text and notes that White masses to support his argument are, I think, some of his best writing--and that is saying a lot. Particularly, the chapters on administrative agencies and the development of administrative law; free speech; the ALI and restatements; substantive due process"; and the "canonization and demonization of judges" reflect White at his best: incisive in analysis, reflecting total command of the pertinent literature, skillfully argued and well developed.
The problem I encountered was that I nonetheless found his central thesis unpersuasive. This is despite the fact that a group centered at UVA, including Charles McCurdy and Barry Cushman ("Rethinking the New Deal Court"), have written outstanding revisionist material seeking to reorient our view toward the New Deal and the development of constitutonal law reaching back to the late 19th century (McCurdy on Justice Field, e.g.). But White has some problems in selling his thesis: (a) he tends to equate the New Deal too much with Court Packing; (b) he dismisses behavioralist explanations for judicial behavior despite his apparent lack of knowledge about the solid work that political scientists have done in this area since the late 1940's; (c) he tends to utilize ambiguous terms like "essentialist" without offering definitions; and (d) he has a tendency to set up "straw men" and knock them while avoiding more critical issues. The central argument also shifts at points: the New Deal had no effect, then perhaps some effect, and then was one of several forces effecting changes.
Nonetheless, this book does what good revisionist writing seeks to accomplish: it forces one to re-examine fundamental premises and either defend them or accept the new contentions. In any regard, the individual chapters are worthy of serious attention even if you ignore White's central thesis. A book well worth reading if one is interested in this period and the development of constitutional law.
"White has unquestionably offered a far more nuanced and compelling examination of the relationship between New Deal and constitutional development than that provided by standard accounts. He has moved beyond the tired narrative of "good" liberals victorious over "bad" conservatives. His work raises a number of issues well worth exploring."
"White's thoughtful volume is a vast improvement over much of the existing literature on the constitutional dimensions of the New Deal era. It deserves a large audience. Still, one might suggest that in his well-founded desire to stamp out the myths associated with the New Deal, White unduly downplays the New Deal as a significant turning point in constitutional history. The New Deal may not have brought about a complete change in constitutional theories, and some of the legal doctrines it produced may have been long in gestation and only coincidentally to have come to a head in the 1930s. The fact remains, however, that for better or worse it was responsible for bringing these issues to a head and did so in a way that has shaped all subsequent constitutional discourse."
-From "The Independent Review," Spring 2002