Download e-book for kindle: A Mere Machine: The Supreme Court, Congress, and American by Anna Harvey

By Anna Harvey

ISBN-10: 0300171110

ISBN-13: 9780300171112

Introductory textbooks on American executive let us know that the ultimate courtroom is self sufficient from the elected branches and that self reliant courts higher defend rights than their extra deferential opposite numbers. yet are those proof or myths?
In this groundbreaking new paintings, Anna Harvey stories proof displaying that the excellent courtroom is in truth terribly deferential to congressional personal tastes in its constitutional rulings. examining cross-national proof, Harvey additionally reveals that the rights protections we get pleasure from within the usa seem to be principally considering the fact that we don't have an autonomous superb court docket. actually, we'd most likely have even larger protections for political and fiscal rights have been we to ban our federal courts from workout judicial assessment altogether. Harvey’s findings recommend that constitutional designers will be clever to heed Thomas Jefferson’s recommendation to “let mercy be the nature of the law-giver, yet permit the pass judgement on be a trifling machine.”

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As reported in Chapters Five through Seven, during the “first” Rehnquist Court, a conservative majority on the Court largely pulled its constitutional punches in its rulings on liberal federal statutes. Facing a liberal Democratic majority in the House of Representatives during its first eight terms, the conservative Rehnquist Court either avoided reviewing liberal federal statutes, or largely upheld the constitutionality SUPREME COURT, CONGRESS, AND AMERICAN DEMOCRACY of those statutes. The best explanation for these decisions appears to be that the Court was deferring to the preferences of liberal Democratic House majorities.

Presumably, if the federalism interpretation were correct, the Rehnquist Court would have been equally likely to strike both liberal and conservative federal statutes. All federal statutes should have been similarly at risk during the second Rehnquist Court, as the justices sought to free state governments from burdensome federal regulations. But this is not what we observe. Federal statutes enacted by the unified Republican Congresses sitting between 1995 and 2004 were significantly less likely to be struck by the second Rehnquist Court, relative to statutes enacted by unified Democratic Congresses, even controlling for statute age.

19 20 SUPREME COURT, CONGRESS, AND AMERICAN DEMOCRACY In fact, the estimates from this analysis indicate that the first Rehnquist Court’s docket of constitutional challenges to liberal landmark statutes was reduced by approximately 93 percent between its 1987 and 1993 terms, relative to the docket we would have observed had this Court not faced liberal House majorities. Between its 1994 and 2004 terms, however, the presence of conservative Republican House majorities freed the Court’s docket from any elected branch constraint.

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A Mere Machine: The Supreme Court, Congress, and American Democracy by Anna Harvey

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