The Supreme Court in Crisis: A History of Conflict

The Supreme Court in Crisis: A History of Conflict

The Supreme Court in Crisis: A History of Conflict

The Supreme Court in Crisis: A History of Conflict

Excerpt

This book had its origins in the late 1950s when the Supreme Court was under sustained attack from various influential quarters of the nation, not the least of which was a sizeable group of senators and representatives in the Congress. After writing an article for the Western Political Quarterly of June 1958 which dealt with some aspects of the judicial-legislative conflict of that day, I began to view the practice of judicial review in terms of the constitutional crises that it tended to produce. It seemed appropriate to write a history of the Supreme Court in which the emphasis would be on the recurring conflicts between the Court on the one hand, and one or both of the two great power centers of the American system, the Congress and the Presidency on the other. It is my contention that given the popular nature of the elective branches of government as opposed to the oligarchical character of the appointive branch, periodic constitutional crises are inevitable. Moreover, since the power of judicial review was not made explicit by the framers uncertainty surrounds its use, and the fact that the Supreme Court is exercising authority which the founding fathers may not have intended complicates the natural struggle among the forces responsible for fashioning public policy.

A study of the Supreme Court in the context of its conflicts with other political agencies in the American system suggests that uninhibited majority rule is sometimes unwise, unworkable, and even unwanted by very reasonable men who realize that willful desires of the moment need to be tempered by institutional arrangements which give consideration to the long view. The concept that all of the forces (individual and collective) that attempt to influence public decisions are compelled to operate . . .

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