Cover image for The Rehnquist court : judicial activism on the right
The Rehnquist court : judicial activism on the right
Schwartz, Herman, 1931-
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hill and Wang, 2002.
Physical Description:
x, 276 pages ; 24 cm
Corporate Subject:
Format :


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KF8742.A5 R44 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Author Notes

Herman Schwartz is a professor of law at American University.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Schwartz, a law professor, civil rights and civil liberties activist, and well-known authority on the U.S. Constitution, has compiled essays from legal scholars on the Rehnquist Supreme Court, now in its fifteenth term. Schwartz uses sharp analysis to chronicle the gradual shift of the Rehnquist Court from radical to conservative, ruling 5 to 4 in many cases that have undercut civil rights laws and federal social programs. Among the essayists are Charles Ogletree, Norman Redlich, Susan Estrich, and Stephen Bright, writing on the impact of the Rehnquist Court on criminal procedure, religion, abortion, Bush v. Gore, states' rights, and capital punishment. Schwartz cites judicial activism by the Rehnquist Court on a level unheard of since the 1930s New Deal era, reflecting court packing along ideological lines that has picked up momentum since the Reagan administration. This is an interesting collection of essays detailing the Right's embracing the kind of activism of which they once accused the Warren Court. --Vernon Ford

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this collection of 15 incisive essays, legal scholars argue that the Rehnquist Court's conservative 5-4 majority has succeeded in erasing many of the social gains made during the New Deal (and in subsequent Supreme Courts) by systematically dismantling the legal rights of the poor, the elderly, minorities, prisoners and other disenfranchised groups. This Court has also severely restricted the power of the federal government to assist these groups, they say, by increasing the role of more conservative state governments (except, of course, when it serves Republican interests to overrule a state court, such as in Bush v. Gore). In the words of Schwartz, an American University law professor, the Rehnquist court has served-and will likely continue to serve-"to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted." Conservatives may argue that the book is one-sided (there are no essays by scholars in favor of the Court's conservative activism) but it does argue forcefully that the Court has done the country more harm than good. It also offers a comprehensive and readable overview of the Court's decisions about gay rights, capital punishment, government financing of religious causes and other important social issues. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Well-known constitutional authority Schwartz (law, American Univ.) has assembled 17 constitutional scholars to assess the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Rehnquist. His Court's record since 1986 is evaluated on a wide range of major constitutional issues, including race and criminal justice, individual rights, executive authority, and state government assault on federal power. Generally, contributors argue the Rehnquist Court's newly developed doctrines have diluted gains in social justice and civil rights during the past 40 years. A central focus of the Rehnquist Court has been federalism decisions, which have restricted the power of the federal government as opposed to state authority-mostly as a result of 5-4 decisions, with a conservative bloc of five justices prevailing. As Schwartz points out, U.S. Supreme Court membership has remained stable for eight years, the longest period since the 1820s. This excellent critical overview of Rehnquist Court rulings should be a welcome addition to academic and larger public libraries.-Steven Puro, St. Louis Univ. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Schwartz (American Univ.) has assembled 17 essays that purport to analyze the judicial record of the Rehnquist Court. With some exceptions the contributors suggest that the majority consists of an arrogant group of partisans who are distorting the Constitution and whose years in power have been disastrous for the nation. A sampling: The case of Bush v. Gore was a "flagrant assertion of power" and "bears an ugly family resemblance to other aspects of the Court's regular business since 1991 when Clarence Thomas replaced Thurgood Marshall, creating a hard-core majority bent on radically altering the legal landscape with ... high handed, injudicious rulings." In Rehnquist's view "racial inequality is the 'natural condition' and efforts to ameliorate it through government remedies demand strict proof that government created the inequality." With respect to the death penalty the Court's legacy will be "that sacrificing a few innocent lives to wage a war on crime is more important than ensuring the fairness and reliability of a conviction and death sentence." Despite the tendency toward hyperbole, the collection is worth reading because it elucidates the perspective of a sizable number of Court scholars. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Graduate collections and above. R. J. Steamer emeritus, University of Massachusetts at Boston

Table of Contents

Tom WickerHerman SchwartzJohn P. MacKenzieWilliam L. TaylorCharles J. Ogletree, Jr.William E. HellersteinStephen BrightNorman RedlichJamin B. RaskinChai FeldblumSusan EstrichHerman SchwartzDavid C. Vladeck and Alan B. MorrisonJames SalzmanAndrew J. ImparatoEleanor M. FoxLawrence E. Mitchell
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Foreword: Reflections of a Court Watcherp. 3
Introductionp. 13
Equal Protection for One Lucky Guyp. 23
Race and Criminal Justice
Racial Equality: The World According to Rehnquistp. 39
The Rehnquist Revolution in Criminal Procedurep. 55
No Rights of Prisonersp. 71
Capital Punishment: Accelerating the Dance with Deathp. 83
Individual Rights
The Religion Clauses: A Study in Confusionp. 99
The First Amendment: The High Ground and the Low Roadp. 115
Gay Rightsp. 129
The Politics of Abortionp. 143
The Assault on Federal Power
The States' Rights Assault on Federal Authorityp. 155
The Roles, Rights, and Responsibilities of the Executive Branchp. 169
Environmental Lawp. 183
The "Miserly" Approach to Disability Rightsp. 195
Antitrust and Business Powerp. 213
No Business like No Businessp. 227
Notesp. 245
Contributorsp. 261
Indexp. 265