The Supreme Court in a Free Society

By Alpheus Thomas Mason; William M. Beaney | Go to book overview
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PREFACE

This book discusses the Supreme Court against a background of history and theory, portraying the Judiciary as a participant in the political process. Each chapter is organized around a basic topic; each is alert to forces and factors that inevitably affect judicial decision. The Court's relation to administrative action and the increasing importance of statutory interpretation are taken into account. Highlighted are certain critical periods -- 1803, 1857, 1895, 1937, 1954 -- during which the Court's role has been hotly debated and illuminated.

American constitutional law is not a closed system. It bristles with alternatives. The Judiciary, hardly less than other branches of the government, is a forum wherein great public issues are explored, debated, decided, but never finally resolved. Though the decisions now stirring protest find strong support in the Constitution and in our heritage, few would be so rash as to contend that the Warren Court has now entered upon an era in which it will lead and instruct public opinion rather than merely follow it. In the judicial process, as elsewhere, everything turns on men.

Demonstrated throughout this book is the Court's highminded effort to achieve free government -- "to temper together," as Burke put it, "the opposite elements of lib

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