The American Supreme Court (The Chicago History of American Civilization)

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9780226556826: The American Supreme Court (The Chicago History of American Civilization)

First published more than forty years ago, Robert G. McCloskey's classic work on the Supreme Court's role in constructing the U.S. Constitution has introduced generations of students to the workings of our nation's highest court. In this fourth edition, Sanford Levinson extends McCloskey's magisterial treatment to address the Court's most recent decisions, including its controversial ruling in Bush v. Gore and its expansion of sexual privacy in Lawrence v. Texas. The book's chronology of important Supreme Court decisions and itsannotated bibliographical essay have also been updated.

As in previous editions, McCloskey's original text remains unchanged. He argues that the Court's strength has always been its sensitivity to the changing political scene, as well as its reluctance to stray too far from the main currents of public sentiment. Levinson's two new chapters show how McCloskey's approach continues to illuminate recent developments, such as the Court's seeming return to its pre-1937 role as "umpire" of the federal system. It is in Bush v. Gore, however, where the implications of McCloskey's interpretation stand out most clearly.

The best and most concise account of the Supreme Court and its place in American politics, McCloskey's wonderfully readable book is an essential guide to its past, present, and future prospects of this institution.

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From the Inside Flap:

First published more than four decades ago, Robert McCloskey's classic work on the Supreme Court's role in constructing the U.S. Constitution has introduced generations of students to the workings of our nation's highest court. Sanford Levinson brings this new edition into the twenty-first century, revising the last two chapters, which cover the events of the past forty years, and updating the book's preface, coda, chronology, and bibliographical essay.

As in the second edition, McCloskey's original text remains unchanged. In his historical interpretation, he argues that the strength of the Court has always been its sensitivity to the changing political scene, as well as its reluctance to stray too far from the main currents of public sentiments. In two new chapters, Levinson discusses the Court's more recent role, especially during the 1960s, as protector of the civil rights and liberties of minorities. He updates as well the Court's continuing role as monitor of the welfare state, looking at the litigation following the 1996 changes in welfare policy by Congress and the President. Also covered in this new edition are the recent Court decisions on federalism, which perhaps portend an enhanced role for the court as the "umpire" of the federal system; the clash between Congress and the Court over the scope of the required accommodation by government of religious conduct; and the Court's role in the impeachment of President Clinton.

Wonderfully readable and concisely written, McCloskey's book is an essential guide to the past, present, and future prospects of America's highest court.

About the Author:

Robert G. McCloskey was professor of government at Harvard University. He is the author of American Conservatism in the Age of the Enterprise. Sanford Levinson is the W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood Jr. Regents Chair in Law at the University of Texas Law School, the author of Constitutional Faith, and coeditor of Processes of Constitutional Decisionmaking.

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