The Will of the People How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 8/17/2010
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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In recent years, the justices of the Supreme Court have ruled definitively on such issues as abortion, school prayer, and military tribunals in the war on terror. They decided one of American history's most contested presidential elections. Yet for all their power, the justices never face election and hold their offices for life. This combination of influence and apparent unaccountability has led many to complain that there is something illegitimateeven undemocraticabout judicial authority. InThe Will of the People, Barry Friedman challenges that claim by showing that the Court has always been subject to a higher power: the American public. Judicial positions have been abolished, the justices' jurisdiction has been stripped, the Court has been packed, and unpopular decisions have been defied. For at least the past sixty years, the justices have made sure that their decisions do not stray too far from public opinion. Friedman's pathbreaking account of the relationship between popular opinion and the Supreme Courtfrom the Declaration of Independence to the end of the Rehnquist court in 2005details how the American people came to accept their most controversial institution and shaped the meaning of the Constitution.

Author Biography

BARRY FRIEDMAN holds the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Chair at the New York University School of Law. He is a constitutional lawyer and has litigated cases involving abortion, the death penalty, and free speech. He lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 3
Conceptionp. 19
Independencep. 44
Defiancep. 72
Controlp. 105
Constituencyp. 137
Law v. Willp. 167
Acceptancep. 195
Limitationsp. 237
Interpretationp. 280
Activismp. 323
Conclusion: What History Teachesp. 367
Notesp. 387
Acknowledgmentsp. 591
Indexp. 595
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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