Shaping Constitutional Values: Elected Government, the Supreme Court, and the Abortion Debate (Interpreting American Politics)

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9780801852855: Shaping Constitutional Values: Elected Government, the Supreme Court, and the Abortion Debate (Interpreting American Politics)

In several provocative case studies, Neal Devins explores the role that judicial and elected officials play in forging constitutional meaning. To illustrate his thesis that constitutional interpretation is 'a dialectic involving all of government,' he examines the evolution of abortion politics in the years since Roe. Here and throughout, Devins demonstrates the interdependence of governmental branches so often obscured in conventional accounts of separation of powers."--Reva Siegel, Yale Law School

In the more than twenty years since Roe vs. Wade, the executive and legislative branches of government have pursued a staggering number of initiatives relating to abortion. In this groundbreaking study, legal scholar Neal Devins shows how the Supreme Court, elected government, and private citizens together help to shape what the Constitution means. Central to his study is the question of how the Court and elected government influence each other. In addition to the abortion debate, Devins examines conflicts over federalism, race, religion, and separation of powers.

These constitutional disputes, Devins contends, can be as constructive as they are inevitable. The long fight over abortion, for example, has resulted in a highly workable--if imperfect--compromise, with elected government becoming more pro-choice and the Court more pro-life. More significant, the Constitution is made more vital by such ongoing interchanges among the Court, elected government, and the people. Without an ongoing dynamic that allows each side to win some of the time, Devins concludes, the Constitution would be less enduring.

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Book Description:

How the Supreme Court, elected government, and private citizens together help to shape what the Constitution means.

About the Author:

Brian J. Cook is associate professor and chair of the department of government and international relations at Clark University. He is the author of Bureaucratic Politics and Regulatory Reform: The EPA and Emissions Trading.

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