Supreme Court

Coming November 4: Overruled: The Long War for Control of the U.S. Supreme Court by Damon Root

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On November 4, Palgrave Macmillan will be publishing Overruled: The Long War for Control of the U.S. Supreme Court, the new book from Reason Senior Editor Damon Root. Here's what the book is all about:

Should the Supreme Court defer to the will of the majority and uphold most democratically enacted laws? Or does the Constitution empower the Supreme Court to protect a broad range of individual rights from the reach of lawmakers? In this timely and provocative book, Damon Root traces the long war over judicial activism and judicial restraint at America's highest court. Beginning in the bloody age of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction, this fight now plays a central role in today's blockbuster legal battles over gay rights, gun control, and health care reform.

It's a conflict that cuts across the political spectrum in surprising ways and makes for some unusual bedfellows. For example, judicial restraint—where judges defer to the policy choices made by lawmakers and other government officials—is not only a touchstone of the Progressive left, it is also a philosophy adopted by many members of the modern right. Today's growing camp of libertarians, by contrast, has no patience with judicial restraint and little use for majority rule. They want the courts to police the other branches of government, striking down any state or federal law that infringes on their bold constitutional agenda of personal and economic freedom.

This is the story of two competing visions, each one with its own take on what role the government and the courts should play in our society, a fundamental debate that goes to the very heart of our constitutional system. Overruled brings to life the ongoing battle for power in the Supreme Court.

And here's what the reviewers are saying:

"A riveting account of the raging debate over the future of our Constitution between those who contend that judges must 'defer' to legislatures and those who view the judiciary as an equal branch of government whose mandate is to secure the rights and liberties of the people by holding government to its just powers. Root reveals the inside story behind the surging movement to restore constitutionally-limited government. I loved this book."—Randy E. Barnett, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory, Georgetown University Law Center, and Director, Georgetown Center for the Constitution

"An intriguing account of judicial and economic policy reflecting controversies within conservatism over civil rights and other issues."—Kirkus Reviews

"In Overruled, Damon Root explains a divide in judicial theory about which I was not only ignorant but mistaken. 'Judicial activism' is wrong. Right? It gives unelected authorities minority power to impose rules and regulations that violate individual rights without a democratic process. Wrong. It's 'judicial deference' that gives elected authorities majority power to impose rules and regulations that violate individual rights within a democratic process. And to further confuse the issue judicial activism and judicial deference have, by turns, been the darlings of both Liberals and Conservatives. Fortunately, Damon Root explains it all." —P. J. O'Rourke, journalist and H. L. Mencken Research Fellow at the Cato Institute

Pre-order your copy of Overruled today at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite online bookseller.

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  1. Someone should write a book about the coming Libertarian Moment?. Maybe title it “Declaration of Independents”, and then hawk it shamelessly on teh Reezons.

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    1. Well, Damon, AnonJob’s on board…

      1. I would be nervous if a woman told me she worked for an outfit called AnonJob.

  3. Instead of asking what the *courts* should interpret the Constitution, we should ask what government officials, and citizens in general, should interpret the Constitution.

    One of the most galling developments is legislatures and other officials adopting a law or policy and saying, “well, if it’s unconstitutional the courts can always strike it down!” While the courts can be a check on unconstitutional activity by other govt branches, other govt branches should likewise be a check on the courts.

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