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Here a leading scholar in constitutional law, Mark Tushnet, challenges hallowed American traditions of judicial review and judicial supremacy, which allow U.S. judges to invalidate "unconstitutional" governmental actions. Many people, particularly liberals, have "warm and fuzzy" feelings about judicial review. They are nervous about what might happen to unprotected constitutional provisions in the chaotic worlds of practical politics and everyday life. By examining a wide range of situations involving constitutional rights, Tushnet vigorously encourages us all to take responsibility for protecting our liberties. Guarding them is not the preserve of judges, he maintains, but a commitment of the citizenry to define itself as "We the People of the United States." The Constitution belongs to us collectively, as we act in political dialogue with each other--whether in the street, in the voting booth, or in the legislature as representatives of others.

Tushnet urges that we create a "populist" constitutional law in which judicial declarations deserve no special consideration. But he warns that in so doing we must pursue reasonable interpretations of the "thin Constitution"--the fundamental American principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution. A populist Constitution, he maintains, will be more effective than a document exclusively protected by the courts. Tushnet believes, for example, that the serious problems of the communist scare of the 1950s were aggravated when Senator Joseph McCarthy's opponents were lulled into inaction, believing that the judicial branch would step in and declare McCarthy's actions unconstitutional. Instead of fulfilling the expectations, the Court allowed McCarthy to continue his crusade until it was ended. Tushnet points out that in this context and in many others, errors occurred because of the existence of judicial review: neither the People nor their representatives felt empowered to enforce the Constitution because they mistakenly counted on the courts to do so. Tushnet's clarion call for a new kind of constitutional law will be essential reading for constitutional law experts, political scientists, and others interested in how and if the freedoms of the American Republic can survive into the twenty-first century.

Most recent discussion of the United States Constitution and war—both the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq—has been dominated by two diametrically opposed views: the alarmism of those who see many current policies as portending gross restrictions on American civil liberties, and the complacency of those who see these same policies as entirely reasonable accommodations to the new realities of national security. Whatever their contributions to the public discussion and policy-making processes, these voices contribute little to an understanding of the real constitutional issues raised by war. Providing the historical and legal context needed to assess competing claims, The Constitution in Wartime identifies and explains the complexities of the important constitutional issues brought to the fore by wartime actions and policies. Twelve prominent legal scholars and political scientists combine broad overviews of U.S. history and contemporary policy with detailed yet accessible analyses of legal issues of pressing concern today.

Some of the essays are broad in scope, reflecting on national character, patriotism, and political theory; exploring whether war and republican government are compatible; and considering in what sense we can be said to be in wartime circumstances today. Others are more specific, examining the roles of Congress, the presidency, the courts, and the international legal community. Throughout the collection, balanced, unbiased analysis leads to some surprising conclusions, one of which is that wartime conditions have sometimes increased, rather than curtailed, civil rights and civil liberties. For instance, during the cold war, government officials regarded measures aimed at expanding African Americans’ freedom at home as crucial to improving America’s image abroad.

Contributors. Sotirios Barber, Mark Brandon, James E. Fleming, Mark Graber, Samuel Issacharoff, David Luban, Richard H. Pildes, Eric Posner, Peter Spiro, William Michael Treanor, Mark Tushnet, Adrian Vermeule

Unlike many other countries, the United States has few constitutional guarantees of social welfare rights such as income, housing, or healthcare. In part this is because many Americans believe that the courts cannot possibly enforce such guarantees. However, recent innovations in constitutional design in other countries suggest that such rights can be judicially enforced--not by increasing the power of the courts but by decreasing it. In Weak Courts, Strong Rights, Mark Tushnet uses a comparative legal perspective to show how creating weaker forms of judicial review may actually allow for stronger social welfare rights under American constitutional law.

Under "strong-form" judicial review, as in the United States, judicial interpretations of the constitution are binding on other branches of government. In contrast, "weak-form" review allows the legislature and executive to reject constitutional rulings by the judiciary--as long as they do so publicly. Tushnet describes how weak-form review works in Great Britain and Canada and discusses the extent to which legislatures can be expected to enforce constitutional norms on their own. With that background, he turns to social welfare rights, explaining the connection between the "state action" or "horizontal effect" doctrine and the enforcement of social welfare rights. Tushnet then draws together the analysis of weak-form review and that of social welfare rights, explaining how weak-form review could be used to enforce those rights. He demonstrates that there is a clear judicial path--not an insurmountable judicial hurdle--to better enforcement of constitutional social welfare rights.

The Routledge Handbook of Constitutional Law is an advanced level reference work which surveys the current state of constitutional law. Featuring new, specially commissioned papers by a range of leading scholars from around the world, it offers a comprehensive overview of the field as well as identifying promising avenues for future research. The book presents the key issues in constitutional law thematically allowing for a truly comparative approach to the subject. It also pays particular attention to constitutional design, identifying and evaluating various solutions to the challenges involved in constitutional architecture.

The book is split into four parts for ease of reference:

Part One: General issues "sets issues of constitutional law firmly in context including topics such as the making of constitutions, the impact of religion and culture on constitutions, and the relationship between international law and domestic constitutions.

Part Two: Structures presents different approaches in regard to institutions or state organization and structural concepts such as emergency powers and electoral systems

Part Three: Rights covers the key rights often enshrined in constitutions

Part Four: New Challenges - explores issues of importance such as migration and refugees, sovereignty under pressure from globalization, Supranational Organizations and their role in creating post-conflict constitutions, and new technological challenges.

Providing up-to-date and authoritative articles covering all the key aspects of constitutional law, this reference work is essential reading for advanced students, scholars and practitioners in the field.

In his 1996 State of the Union Address, President Bill Clinton announced that the "age of big government is over." Some Republicans accused him of cynically appropriating their themes, while many Democrats thought he was betraying the principles of the New Deal and the Great Society. Mark Tushnet argues that Clinton was stating an observed fact: the emergence of a new constitutional order in which the aspiration to achieve justice directly through law has been substantially chastened.

Tushnet argues that the constitutional arrangements that prevailed in the United States from the 1930s to the 1990s have ended. We are now in a new constitutional order--one characterized by divided government, ideologically organized parties, and subdued constitutional ambition. Contrary to arguments that describe a threatened return to a pre-New Deal constitutional order, however, this book presents evidence that our current regime's animating principle is not the old belief that government cannot solve any problems but rather that government cannot solve any more problems.


Tushnet examines the institutional arrangements that support the new constitutional order as well as Supreme Court decisions that reflect it. He also considers recent developments in constitutional scholarship, focusing on the idea of minimalism as appropriate to a regime with chastened ambitions. Tushnet discusses what we know so far about the impact of globalization on domestic constitutional law, particularly in the areas of international human rights and federalism. He concludes with predictions about the type of regulation we can expect from the new order.


This is a major new analysis of the constitutional arrangements in the United States. Though it will not be received without controversy, it offers real explanatory and predictive power and provides important insights to both legal theorists and political scientists.

The Oxford Handbook of the U.S. Constitution offers a comprehensive overview and introduction to the U.S. Constitution from the perspectives of history, political science, law, rights, and constitutional themes, while focusing on its development, structures, rights, and role in the U.S. political system and culture. This Handbook enables readers within and beyond the U.S. to develop a critical comprehension of the literature on the Constitution, along with accessible and up-to-date analysis. The historical essays included in this Handbook cover the Constitution from 1620 right through the Reagan Revolution to the present. Essays on political science detail how contemporary citizens in the United States rely extensively on political parties, interest groups, and bureaucrats to operate a constitution designed to prevent the rise of parties, interest-group politics and an entrenched bureaucracy. The essays on law explore how contemporary citizens appear to expect and accept the exertions of power by a Supreme Court, whose members are increasingly disconnected from the world of practical politics. Essays on rights discuss how contemporary citizens living in a diverse multi-racial society seek guidance on the meaning of liberty and equality, from a Constitution designed for a society in which all politically relevant persons shared the same race, gender, religion and ethnicity. Lastly, the essays on themes explain how in a "globalized" world, people living in the United States can continue to be governed by a constitution originally meant for a society geographically separated from the rest of the "civilized world." Whether a return to the pristine constitutional institutions of the founding or a translation of these constitutional norms in the present is possible remains the central challenge of U.S. constitutionalism today.
In an examination of Southern slave law between 1810 and 1860, Mark Tushnet reveals a structured dichotomy between slave labor systems and bourgeois systems of production. Whereas the former rest on the total dominion of the master over the slave and necessitate a concern for the slave's humanity, the latter rest of the purchase by the capitalist of a worker's labor power only and are concerned primarily with economic interest. Focusing on a wide range of issues that include contract and accident law as well as criminal law and the law of manumission, he shows how Southern slave law had to respond to the competing pressures of humanity and interest.
Beginning with a critical evaluation of slave law, the author develops the conceptual framework for his own perspective on the legal system, drawing on the works of Marx and Weber. He then examines four appellate court cases decided in three different states, from civil-law Louisiana to commonlaw North Carolina, at widely separated times, from 1818 to 1858.
Professor Tushnet finds that the cases display a continuing but never wholly successful attempt at distinguish between law and sentiment as modes of regulating social interactions involving slaves. Also, the cases show that the primary method of accommodating law and sentiment was an attempt to use rigid categories to confine the law of slavery to what was thought its proper sphere.
Mark Tushnet is Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin.

Originally published in 1981.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

Is the world facing a serious threat to the protection of constitutional democracy? There is a genuine debate about the meaning of the various political events that have, for many scholars and observers, generated a feeling of deep foreboding about our collective futures all over the world. Do these events represent simply the normal ebb and flow of political possibilities, or do they instead portend a more permanent move away from constitutional democracy that had been thought triumphant after the demise of the Soviet Union in 1989? Constitutional Democracy in Crisis? addresses these questions head-on: Are the forces weakening constitutional democracy around the world general or nation-specific? Why have some major democracies seemingly not experienced these problems? How can we as scholars and citizens think clearly about the ideas of "constitutional crisis" or "constitutional degeneration"? What are the impacts of forces such as globalization, immigration, income inequality, populism, nationalism, religious sectarianism? Bringing together leading scholars to engage critically with the crises facing constitutional democracies in the 21st century, these essays diagnose the causes of the present afflictions in regimes, regions, and across the globe, believing at this stage that diagnosis is of central importance - as Abraham Lincoln said in his "House Divided" speech, "If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it."
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