- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press (April 25, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674319281
- ISBN-13: 978-0674319288
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,022,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Freedom's Law: The Moral Reading of the American Constitution
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Eloquently written and forcefully argued. (Richard A. Epstein New York Times Book Review)
Should be read as the most lucid and convincing partisan brief for the 'liberal' position in contemporary constitutional disputes… Dworkin is almost always right about legal principles and always elegant. (Mortimer Sellers Washington Post)
A rich, learned and profound [book]… It is [the] 'originalist' approach―that we must go strictly by the words in the Constitution and avoid creative interpretations―that Dworkin disputes in this collection of essays… [Dworkin's] ideas are stimulating and his writing is able, forcible and clear. (David Mehegan Boston Globe)
An elegant series of essays…on difficult topics of constitutional principle. [Dworkin] analyses, with force and clarity, the rights of citizens in relation to abortion, euthanasia, affirmative action, libel and pornography. He complains, with justification, that judges―and politicians―continue to pretend, at least in public, that, even in hard cases, the judicial function is mechanical rather than creative. He argues that only when we openly recognize that judges necessarily make contemporary judgments of political morality, albeit constrained by integrity to respect existing legal principles, can adjudication in hard cases be reconciled with democratic accountability. If the public understands what is being done on its behalf, then it has the opportunity to influence the development of the law by comment and criticism… Professor Dworkin's analysis of adjudication in hard cases has as much force on this side of the Atlantic Ocean…[and] is recommended to everyone interested in jurisprudence. (David Pannick The Times)
At all times, Dworkin's writing is superb, clear, engaging, and erudite… The innately interesting material that he discusses will draw in many who might otherwise believe that this book is about complicated issues that they cannot understand. It is complicated, but Dworkin serves these issues up in bite-size pieces that most people can comprehend and these are issues that should matter to citizens who care about the Constitution and the judges who interpret the laws. (Sally E. Hadden The Historian (Allentown, PA))
A familiar criticism of the American way of law is that judges, especially justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, presume to govern as philosopher-kings. Ronald Dworkin is perhaps the country's most unabashed intellectual advocate for the idea that this is precisely what the judges ought to be doing. In this collection of essays Dworkin supports a right to abortion, euthanasia, affirmative action, and a view of free speech that not only embraces academic freedom but would also do away with most of the laws against libel and slander… Dworkin's is a powerful mind, and there is much here that is provocative, even some that is persuasive. (Maimon Schwarzschild Ethics)
Whether or not readers agree with Dworkin on every point, they will come away from this thought-provoking book with a new respect for the Constitution as a vital, ethical document. (Publishers Weekly)
From the Back Cover
This book argues that Americans have been systematically misled about what their Constitution is and how judges interpret it. In spirited cases and general constitutional principles, Ronald Dworkin argues that a distinctly American version of government based on the moral reading of the Constitution is in fact the best account of what democracy really is.
Top customer reviews
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The book's strength is Dworkin's accessible writing style (which may stem from the popular press origins of most of these essays) and his tight analysis of several cutting edge issues--abortion, affirmative action, free speech, as well as some historically important battles--the Bork and Thomas nominations.
His bottom line is (although he does not say this explicitly) that the recent Supreme Court, abbeted by a series of Republican presidents, has begun a revolution in legal thinking which rejects the 200 year old liberal tradition of judicial interpretation, and in the process has substituted results based, conservative politics for any semblance of judicial reasoning.
The weakness of the book is that many examples and arguments are repeated between essays, covering the same ground in virtually the same words from different times.
A much easier read than "Taking Rights Seriously", although the latter clearly is a more complete exposition of Dworkin's philosophy.
For a counter argument, see any of Judge Posner's recent work, which explicitly takes on Dworkin's philosophy.