Presidential bids for constitutional leadership have been rare, but reflect the temporary political advantage in doing so. Presidential bids for constitutional leadership have been rare, but reflect the temporary political advantage in doing so. But Keith Whittington argues that the Court's justices have not simply seized power and circumvented politics. Often, political actors have been content to defer to the interpretive authority of others. The justices have had power thrust upon them—by politicians, for the benefit of politicians. Beginning in the late 1970s, this new wave of academics explored questions ranging from the nature of creating the U. Far more often, presidents have cooperated in increasing the Court's power and encouraging its activism.
Graber of and which together won the Teaching and Mentoring Award for innovative instructional materials in law and courts , and a one-volume abridgement. Scholars and students associated with Walter Murphy at Princeton University have long asked this question in their exploration of constitutional politics and judicial behavior. Through his examination, Whittington provides ample evidence in support of his thesis that it is not so much the United States Supreme Court that has laid claim to judicial supremacy in constitutional interpretation as it is the elected branches of government and the executive, in particular, that have seen it in their own interest to assert that the Court is the ultimate authority on the Constitution. Over the course of American history, there has been no single, stable allocation of interpretive authority. Bits and pieces of work relating to this book have been presented at a number of workshops, conferences, and colloquia over the last few years, and I appreciate greatly those opportunities to work out these ideas and the many participants who prodded me to work on them some more. The E-mail message field is required.
Whittington is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University. The historical evidence is complete and compelling. The struggle for judicial authority has occurred within our constitutional framework, not in opposition to it. Presidential leadership is more institutionally creative and, by necessity, more entrepreneurial, at the narrowest Category: Author : Denis J. His new book, , is forthcoming and he is currently completing Constitutional Crises, Real and Imagined and The Idea of Democracy in America, from the American Revolution to the Gilded Age. Far more often, presidents have cooperated in increasing the Court's power and encouraging its activism. What distinguishes Whittington's effort from a thousand other analyses of the Court's place in American constitutional practice is his embrace of an explicitly political, as opposed to legalistic, approach to the subject.
Whittington examines why presidents have often found judicial supremacy to be in their best interest, why they have rarely assumed responsibility for interpreting the Constitution, and why constitutional leadership has often been passed to the courts. ¹ Constitutions require a single, authoritative interpreter, subject to neither popular pressure nor electoral instability. But Keith Whittington argues that the Court's justices have not simply seized power and circumvented politics. In the context of judicial supremacy, the opinions of the Court have the capacity to mark some political contestants and their positions as distinctly un-American and beyond the pale of legitimate American political discourse. It should not be denominated a constitution.
The Development of the American Presidency pays great attention to that historical weight but is organized topically and conceptually with the constitutional origins and political development of the presidency its central focus. Category: Law Author : Keith E. The justices on the Supreme Court certainly seem to think so — and their critics say that this position threatens democracy. By implication, political attacks on the Court were an effort to overcome judicial obstruction of important federal policies. Presidents cannot all make the same leadership claims on their fellow political actors. In this sweeping political history of judicial supremacy in America, Whittington shows that presidents and political leaders of all stripes have worked to put the Court on a pedestal and have encouraged its justices to accept the role of ultimate interpreters of the Constitution.
But Keith Whittington argues that the Court's justices have not simply seized power and circumvented politics. Presidential interpretation of the Constitution is generally understood in the same way. Individual legislators, state officials, or citizens may all question judicial supremacy to relatively little effect. The unprecedented assertiveness of the Rehnquist Court in striking down acts of Congress is only the most recent example of a development that began with the founding generation itself. The overarching ambition of this collection is to awaken a constitutionalist consciousness in its readers--to view themselves as potential makers and changers of constitutions, as opposed to mere subjects of existing arrangements. It is not a history of judicial review or constitutional law per se.
More generally, presidents have a variety of high-profile opportunities to challenge judicial supremacy without subjecting themselves to judicial review and response, from the informal power of the bully pulpit to the formal veto and pardoning powers. The unprecedented assertiveness of the Rehnquist Court in striking down acts of Congress is only the most recent example of a development that began with the founding generation itself. Far more often, presidents have cooperated in increasing the Court's power and encouraging its activism. The coalitional political shifts in electoral support seen during these transformative periods are just a by-product of massive historical events. Challenging the conventional wisdom that judges have usurped democracy, Whittington shows that judicial supremacy is the product of democratic politics. Most often, interpretive authority is assumed to be vested in the judiciary, producing judicial supremacy.
This theory of fixed departmentalism accepts that there is such a thing as authoritative interpretation in a given matter, but rejects the notion of a single supreme interpreter regarding all matters. Unable to say that Congress is a more authoritative interpreter of the Constitution than the Court, legislators are instead likely to content themselves with saying that the Court has made a mistake in some particular constitutional decision. One consequence is that I have benefited from the support and conversation of many colleagues and institutions during the time that I have been thinking about issues relating to this book, and it is unlikely that I can adequately acknowledge them all. Constitution to American national and political identity, judicial supremacy implies much more than the exercise of a veto power by a particularly privileged government institution or the laying aside of statutory details as legally void. We tend to assume that some institution must simply have the authority to determine constitutional meaning, and that other institutions must have the corresponding obligation to defer to that authority. It also authoritatively interprets constitutional meaning. He draws on a rich study of history to support a thesis that builds from various literatures in political science generally and the study of courts in particular.
The most basic empirical question to be asked concerns the political foundations of judicial supremacy. Each chapter begins with a narrative account of some illustrative puzzle that brings to life a central concept. Drawing on more than four decades of thinking about the Supreme Court and its role in the American political system, this book offers a new, clear, and troubling perspective on American jurisprudence, politics, and history. Challenging the conventional wisdom that judges have usurped democracy, Whittington shows that judicial supremacy is the product of democratic politics. Rather than treating the judicial authority to determine constitutional meaning as a matter of legal doctrine, this book treats it as a political problem to be overcome. Less often, but more provocatively, some have asserted that interpretive authority is most appropriately invested in some other institution, usually Congress or the president, which is then to be regarded as supreme over the other branches of government.
The Rehnquist Court was clear in identifying the judicial authority as the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution with the capacity of a constitution to constrain political actors, who could otherwise alter or ignore the terms of the Constitution at will as it suited their immediate needs. Category: Political Science Author : Sotirios A. In this sweeping political history of judicial supremacy in America, Whittington shows that presidents and political leaders of all stripes have worked to put the Court on a pedestal and have encouraged its justices to accept the role of ultimate interpreters of the Constitution. Just when I thought I was about to work on this project in earnest, her grandfather was killed in the destruction of the World Trade Center. The justices on the Supreme Court certainly seem to think so--and their critics say that this position threatens democracy. There is a correct and stable answer to the question Who shall interpret? Daniel Kelemen and Gregory A.