The American Supreme Court is one of the most powerful and controversial judicial bodies in the world. The Court has assumed the role of settling fundamental issues of American social policy through its power of constitutional interpretation, and its rulings are among the most divisive, and controversial events in American political life. How did the American court come to acquire such power? How does it maintain its authority and public confidence in the face of deep political divides. In this book Stephen Breyer, a leading intellect in the current Court, gives an insider's view on how America's Supreme Court came to acquire such a prominent role in American public life, how the Court operates, and how it can continue to maintain the trust of the American public as the final arbiter of the values underlying America's democratic constitution. Breyer introduces the history of the Court by telling the stories of the landmark cases that defined the role the Court would play in American politics. He then offers a powerful restatement of his views on how a constitutional court should fulfil its function as final interpreter of a democratic constitution.
In doing so, he examines some of the Court's most controversial recent decisions, on issues such as the legality of detention in Guantanamo Bay, and the scope of protection of gun ownership in Heller. The book offers a unique introduction to how the American Supreme Court does and should operate, invaluable to all students of American law and politics, and anyone looking to understand the workings of American politics.
Stephen Breyer took his seat on the U.S. Supreme Court in 1994. He is the author of Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution (OUP/Knopf 2005)
1. Introduction ; 2. Hotspur's Question ; 3. Marbury versus Madison ; 4. The Cherokees ; 5. Dred Scott ; 6. Little Rock ; 7. A Fourth Case ; 8. Interpreting the Law ; 9. Congress: Statutes and Purposes ; 10. The Executive Branch: Administration and Comparative Expertise ; 11. The States: Federalism and Subsidiarity ; 12. Other Federal Courts: Specialization ; 13. Past Courts: Stability ; 14. Individual Liberty: Values and Proportionality ; 15. The President: National Security and Accountability: Korematsu ; 16. The President: Guantanamo and a Tug on the String ; Epilogue