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Great Cases in Constitutional Law

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This collection of scholarly but accessible essays (George is a professor of jurisprudence at Princeton) addresses the role of the U.S. Supreme Court in interpreting the Constitution. In its 1803 decision in Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court asserted the judiciary's province, and in fact duty, to "say what the law is," and since then the justices have regularly decided whether federal or state laws pass muster under the Constitution. Five landmark constitutional cases form the core of this book: Marbury, the Dred Scott case on slavery (one essay is by James M. McPherson), Lochner v. New York on social legislation, Brown v. Topeka Board of Education on equality in public schools and Roe v. Wade on abortion rights (essays are by Jean Bethke Elshtain and George Will). Each case is the subject of a principal essay, followed by a response purportedly written from a different perspective. The prevailing attitude is disapproval of "judicial activism," in which justices, purporting to find their personal moral views enshrined in the Constitution, invalidate acts undertaken by the people's elected representatives. The authors here either advocate "original intent" (limiting constitutional analysis to the text itself and the views of the Founders) or counsel in favor of narrow, fact-based decisions instead of broad policy pronouncements. The principal essays range in style from professorial disputation to impassioned moral advocacy. With one exception (Walter F. Murphy's response to Earl Maltz on the notion of "originalism" as it relates to the Brown decision), the writers of the responsive pieces seem to agree with, and expand upon, the ideas of the main essayists. More contrariety in point of view would have advanced the reader's understanding of how constitutional cases should be decided. Even so, this volume thoughtfully explains the views of those who advocate more of the original Constitution, and less of the Supreme Court, in American political life. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"This book provides an excellent overview of landmark Supreme Court Cases, most of which impacted the court's power and direction." ― Booklist

"A collection of scholarly but accessible essays. . . . The principal essays range in style from professorial disputation to impassioned moral advocacy.. . . [This] volume thoughtfully explains the views of those who advocate more of the original Constitution, and less of the Supreme Court, in American political life." ―
Publishers Weekly

"All essays provide interesting insight into the concepts of judicial review and judicial activism. . . . [An] excellent book. . . . I highly recommend it to all."
---Ruth Ann Wary, Law and Politics Book Review

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Princeton University Press (February 28, 2000)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 216 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0691049521
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0691049526
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 11 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.54 x 9 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 8 ratings

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Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He served as chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), on the President’s Council on Bioethics, as a presidential appointee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, and as the U.S. member of UNESCO’s World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST). He is a former Judicial Fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States, where he received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award. His scholarly articles and reviews have appeared in such journals as the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the Columbia Law Review, the American Journal of Jurisprudence, and the Review of Politics.

Professor George is a recipient of many honors and awards, including the Presidential Citizens Medal, the Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland, the Canterbury Medal of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Sidney Hook Memorial Award of the National Association of Scholars, the Philip Merrill Award of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, the Bradley Prize for Intellectual and Civic Achievement, the Irving Kristol Award of the American Enterprise Institute, and Princeton University’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. He has given honorific lectures at Harvard, Yale, Oxford, University of St. Andrews, and Cornell University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and holds honorary doctorates of law, ethics, science, letters, divinity, humanities, law and moral values, civil law, humane letters, and juridical science. A graduate of Swarthmore College, he holds J.D. and M.T.S. degrees from Harvard University and the degrees of D.Phil., B.C.L., and D.C.L. from Oxford University.

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