In a remarkably innovative reconstruction of constitutional history, Robert Burt traces the controversy over judicial supremacy back to the founding fathers. Also drawing extensively on Lincoln’s conception of political equality, Burt argues convincingly that judicial supremacy and majority rule are both inconsistent with the egalitarian democratic ideal. The first fully articulated presentation of the Constitution as a communally interpreted document in which the Supreme Court plays an important but not predominant role, The Constitution in Conflict has dramatic implications for both the theory and the practice of constitutional law.
Good political theory, good history, and a good read.
Dr. Burt provides an excellent study of the evolving functions of the Supreme Court. His work carries the reader from the inceptions of the Court through Roe, Brown III and the surfeit of cases concerning the death penalty issue and abortion. His research illustrates a wide knowledge of source materials dealing with the evolution of the Court. Documentation was gathered from various disciplines to support his contentions concerning the conflicts within the Court. Most illuminating is the collection of annotated footnotes that offer supportive information in a way that does not interrupt the flow of the narrative… It is an excellent tome worthy of several readings.
A well-written, thoughtful work, sure to be controversial, which adroitly challenges assumptions previously held by most scholars and laypeople about the courts and judicial supremacy.
The Constitution in Conflict is an absolutely first-rate book, and it presents a well-thought-out attack on the standard notion of judicial supremacy that views the Supreme Court as the ‘sole’ or even ‘ultimate’ interpreter of the Constitution. Instead, Burt develops his notion of Madisonian constitutionalism that makes the Constitution far more of a communally interpreted document, in which the Court plays an important but not predominant role. The real contribution that Burt makes is not simply to suggest that we revise our understanding of the role of the Supreme Court; rather, he offers extremely interesting interpretations of particular thinkers, especially Madison and Lincoln, and episodes in our legal history, particularly Brown v. Board of Education. Readers from several disciplines, including law, American history, American political thought, and general political theory, will benefit from reading this book.
This book is especially well-written; sophisticated yet accessible. Burt articulates the dilemma of judicial review in a fresh and interesting fashion. The strongest single facet of the book is Burt’s ability to suggest that judicial review may have been persistently mischaracterized; it need not be equated with judicial ‘supremacy’ but rather with judicial authoritativeness in search of subsequent and collective legitimacy.
- 488 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
From this author
Sorry, there was an error adding the item to your shopping bag.
Sorry, your session has expired. Please refresh your browser's tab.