First among Friends: Interest Groups, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Right to Privacy

By Suzanne U. Samuels; Nadine Strossen | Go to book overview

1

Introduction: Decision-Making in the U.S. Supreme Court Introduction

Throughout our nation's history, we have pondered the role of the U.S. Supreme Court in the larger polity. In Federalist Paper No. 78, Alexander Hamilton attempted to allay the fears of those who argued that the Court would undermine the fledgling democracy and threaten the rights of both individuals and states by contending that the judiciary was the least dangerous branch of government, because it lacked the powers of sword and shield. 1 Hamilton contended that an independent judiciary was necessary to guard against what he called “the occasional ill-humors in the society.” 2 Others, perhaps most notably Thomas Jefferson, argued that the Court was in essence antidemocratic, since the Justices were not elected by the people and might have the power to strike down laws passed by the democratically chosen branches. This debate about whether courts are or should be independent of the either of the other branches of government or the people continues to rage. Furthermore, the debate has intensified in the second half of the twentieth century, as the Supreme Court increasingly has been called upon to adjudicate cases involving highly controversial issues that implicate federal, state, and local laws.

At the heart of much of this debate are discussions about how Supreme Court Justices arrive at decisions in hotly contested cases. While Hamilton and others claimed that the Justices would rely only on strict rules and precedents in reaching decisions, most scholars now understand that these rules or laws are often not strict and that this precedent is malleable. Ambiguities in the law and conflicting legal precedents

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First among Friends: Interest Groups, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Right to Privacy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Introduction: Decision-Making in the U.S. Supreme Court Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Right to Privacy Created: Poe V. Ullman and Griswold V. Connecticut 25
  • 3 - Amici Curiae and the Abortion Debate 53
  • 4 - Amici Curiae and Assistance in Dying 111
  • 5 - Amici Curiae and Protected Relationships 165
  • 6 - Conclusions 193
  • Sources 225
  • Selected Bibliography 235
  • Index 247
  • About the Author 285
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