An Essential Safeguard: Essays on the United States Supreme Court and Its Justices

An Essential Safeguard: Essays on the United States Supreme Court and Its Justices

An Essential Safeguard: Essays on the United States Supreme Court and Its Justices

An Essential Safeguard: Essays on the United States Supreme Court and Its Justices

Synopsis

This collection examines the record of current and recent Supreme Court justices in fashioning the Constitution and looks at the larger political context in which their work occurred. Eight distinguished Supreme Court scholars focus on current Justices O'Connor and Rehnquist as well as on several from the recent past--Justices Douglas, Black, and Harlan. Stephenson's introductory essay presents an overview of the Court's role in American government today. The volume makes a complex subject both accessible to general readers and interesting to experts.

Excerpt

In recent years, there has been no shortage of national observances in the United States. Beginning with those commemorating the first shots fired in the Revolutionary War and the signing of the Declaration of Independence, numerous occasions have celebrated the Articles of Confederation, the calling and convening of the Philadelphia Convention, the writing and signing of the Constitution, the debates over ratification, and the first elections and organization of the new government. in 1991, Americans mark not merely the ratification of the Bill of Rights but the successful completion of the nation's first experiment in constitutional change under the new charter.

These events in turn have given rise not just to flags and fireworks but to rethinking one of the most remarkable fifteen-year periods in the history of any nation. This look backward has sparked debates over national beginnings and "first principles" in classrooms, informal study sessions, books, journals, newspapers, television and radio programs, legislative halls, and the councils of the executive. It is surely not coincidence that this period of commemoration witnessed a renewed and heated exchange over "the intent of the framers," the significance of whatever of their views we can uncover, and the relevance of their ideas to contemporary issues.

The years that we have commemorated formed a crucial stage in the development of constitutionalism and limited government. Contributing . . .

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