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Radicals in Robes: Why Extreme Right-Wing Courts Are Wrong for America

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Most people think that the Supreme Court has a rough balance between left and right. This is a myth; in fact the justices once considered right-wing have now taken the mantle of the Court's moderates, and the liberal element has all but disappeared. Most people also think that judicial activism is solely a liberal movement. This is also a myth; since William Rehnquist was Most people think that the Supreme Court has a rough balance between left and right. This is a myth; in fact the justices once considered right-wing have now taken the mantle of the Court's moderates, and the liberal element has all but disappeared. Most people also think that judicial activism is solely a liberal movement. This is also a myth; since William Rehnquist was confirmed as Chief Justice in 1986, the Supreme Court has engaged in an unprecedented record of judicial activism. These two factors are feeding a movement to restore what many conservatives call "The Constitution in Exile," by which they mean the Constitution as it existed before the Roosevelt administration. Radicals in Robes explains what the restoration of this constitutional vision would mean. It would mean the end of the FCC, the SEC, the EPA, and every other federal agency that enacts regulations that have the force of law. It would mean that the clause of the First Amendment that says that Congress may make no law "respecting an establishment of religion" would be turned on its head. Marriage laws and many other familiar areas of modern life are all in the sights of this conservative movement. Radicals in Robes takes judicial philosophy out of the law schools and shows what it means when it intersects partisan politics. It pulls away the veil of rhetoric from a dangerous and radical right-wing movement and issues a strong and passionate warning about what conservatives really intend. One of the most respected legal theorists in the country, Cass R. Sunstein here issues a warning of compelling concern to us all.


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Most people think that the Supreme Court has a rough balance between left and right. This is a myth; in fact the justices once considered right-wing have now taken the mantle of the Court's moderates, and the liberal element has all but disappeared. Most people also think that judicial activism is solely a liberal movement. This is also a myth; since William Rehnquist was Most people think that the Supreme Court has a rough balance between left and right. This is a myth; in fact the justices once considered right-wing have now taken the mantle of the Court's moderates, and the liberal element has all but disappeared. Most people also think that judicial activism is solely a liberal movement. This is also a myth; since William Rehnquist was confirmed as Chief Justice in 1986, the Supreme Court has engaged in an unprecedented record of judicial activism. These two factors are feeding a movement to restore what many conservatives call "The Constitution in Exile," by which they mean the Constitution as it existed before the Roosevelt administration. Radicals in Robes explains what the restoration of this constitutional vision would mean. It would mean the end of the FCC, the SEC, the EPA, and every other federal agency that enacts regulations that have the force of law. It would mean that the clause of the First Amendment that says that Congress may make no law "respecting an establishment of religion" would be turned on its head. Marriage laws and many other familiar areas of modern life are all in the sights of this conservative movement. Radicals in Robes takes judicial philosophy out of the law schools and shows what it means when it intersects partisan politics. It pulls away the veil of rhetoric from a dangerous and radical right-wing movement and issues a strong and passionate warning about what conservatives really intend. One of the most respected legal theorists in the country, Cass R. Sunstein here issues a warning of compelling concern to us all.

30 review for Radicals in Robes: Why Extreme Right-Wing Courts Are Wrong for America

  1. 5 out of 5

    B.

    While I was surprised to find as many concessions to originalism (Sunstein prefers "fundamentalism" to invoke a religious or irrational tone to reverence for the Constitution) and "nonpartisan restraint" (which doesn't appear seriously until page 50 and then not again until the penultimate page of the paperback), which convinced me to award a second star, this book would have been considerably better - and far shorter - had Sunstein refrained from the hyperbole, invective, fear-mongering, questi While I was surprised to find as many concessions to originalism (Sunstein prefers "fundamentalism" to invoke a religious or irrational tone to reverence for the Constitution) and "nonpartisan restraint" (which doesn't appear seriously until page 50 and then not again until the penultimate page of the paperback), which convinced me to award a second star, this book would have been considerably better - and far shorter - had Sunstein refrained from the hyperbole, invective, fear-mongering, question-begging, and his proclivity for erecting and demolishing straw-men. The book is a slapdash effort that I would not expect took Sunstein more than a month to write, and was meant for either non-lawyers or like-minded lawyers to gobble up like McNuggets in an effort to feel like they are smarter for reading Sunstein, but are unwittingly clogging their arteries with fatty garbage. Cass Sunstein may very well be a gifted constitutional scholar, but in this work he does not show it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    I received Cass R. Sunstein's Radicals in Robes after Harriett Miers was nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court. I completed it less than 48 hours before "Miers asked Bush" to withdraw her nomination after having been skewered by the right wing of Bush's base. Though Sunstein wasn't writing specifically about Miers or the nomination process, his analysis is pertinent to where we go from here.[return][return]Sunstein, who teaches at the University of Chicago Law School, attempts to elevate the I received Cass R. Sunstein's Radicals in Robes after Harriett Miers was nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court. I completed it less than 48 hours before "Miers asked Bush" to withdraw her nomination after having been skewered by the right wing of Bush's base. Though Sunstein wasn't writing specifically about Miers or the nomination process, his analysis is pertinent to where we go from here.[return][return]Sunstein, who teaches at the University of Chicago Law School, attempts to elevate the discourse over federal judges beyond litmus tests and paper trails to analysis of theories of constitutional interpretation. He identifies four major theories of constitutional interpretation and analyzes many of the today's hot button issues through their prisms.[return][return]The four approaches very briefly summarized are: (1) fundamentalism, which believes the proper approach to constitutional law is discerning and applying the intent behind the Constitution when it was ratified in 1789, the intent behind the Bill of Rights when it was ratified in 1791 or when the Fourteenth Amendment (through which much of the Bill of Rights has been applied to the states) was adopted in 1868; (2) perfectionism, whose adherents believe the Constitution should be interpreted in broad terms so that its ideals are fully realized and the law is made "better"; (3) majoritarianism, an approach little used today that believes majority rule should impact constitutional interpretation and, thus, will defer to decisions made by the executive and legislative branches as long as they do not clearly violate the Constitution; and, (4) minimalism, which believes judges and courts should try to avoid the deep core questions, such as the role of religion in society, and render rulings on narrow grounds tailored to the precise issues and facts presented by any case rather than making broad pronouncements.[return][return]Sunstein excoriates fundamentalism and argues it is a threat to established precedent and American society as a whole. While he is less critical of perfectionism, he also sees it as having inherent failings. Sunstein advocates minimalism, moving constitutional law by, to use his terms, nudges rather than earthquakes. He believes the real Radicals in Robes are fundamentalist judges appointed to the bench by the Reagan, Bush I and Bush II administrations. He contends these fundamentalists tend to be wedded to a right wing agenda of, among other things, overturning any concept of a constitutional right to privacy, abolishing affirmative action, invalidating any gun control laws, and reducing or removing the "wall" between church and state judicially recognized under the Establishment Clause. The most notable proponents currently are Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.[return][return]Balance of review at http://prairieprogressive.com/?p=566

  3. 4 out of 5

    Hawkgirl

    I think this book was more relevant when it was published back in 2005 than 2012/3 when I read it. I felt like I learned quite a bit about legal philosophies, but was quite bored, partially because I was expecting a different book than I got. It's certainly dated in some sections given what has gone through SCOTUS in the past 5/6 years. I think this book was more relevant when it was published back in 2005 than 2012/3 when I read it. I felt like I learned quite a bit about legal philosophies, but was quite bored, partially because I was expecting a different book than I got. It's certainly dated in some sections given what has gone through SCOTUS in the past 5/6 years.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Blake Maddux

    Unfortunate title. Extreme courts of any sort, as Sunstein himself argues in this very book, are wrong for America. Maybe he and/or his publisher thought that something provacative would move more copies.

  5. 5 out of 5

    The Once and Future King

    Finally! A good book which exposes the Hypocracy of the Right-Wing Courts and Judges in America which has lead not to Justice but to In-Justice! Such as in the Case of Mumia Abu Jamal case.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ted Rolfs

  7. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Sanchez

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gary Robinson

  9. 5 out of 5

    Champagne

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey

  12. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Osborne

  13. 4 out of 5

    Max

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kai Palchikoff

    Basic Books

  15. 5 out of 5

    Natalya Fatkhiyeva

  16. 4 out of 5

    Craig Cunningham

  17. 4 out of 5

    Doon

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kenny

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  20. 5 out of 5

    Heber

  21. 4 out of 5

    Don Keninitz

  22. 5 out of 5

    Libby

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dave

  24. 4 out of 5

    Count Jared

  25. 4 out of 5

    Matt Cross

  26. 4 out of 5

    Luis

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brittany Farrell

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andy

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