Courts: A Comparative and Political Analysis

University of Chicago Press
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In this provocative work, Martin Shapiro proposes an original model for the study of courts, one that emphasizes the different modes of decision making and the multiple political roles that characterize the functioning of courts in different political systems.
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University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Nov 15, 2013
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Law / Comparative
Law / General
Political Science / Comparative Politics
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One of the great continuing disputes of U.S. politics is about the role of the Supreme Court. Another is about the First Amendment. This book is about both. A classic defense of the openly political role of the Court, this book belies the notion reasserted more recently by Chief Justice Roberts that judges are just neutral umpires. Especially in the area of speech, judges make policy; they create law.

Especially in the realm of free speech, the Court must own up to its political function, Martin Shapiro argues in a way that seems to anticipate the current vogue of judicial "modesty."  He takes head-on the supposed modesty and deference of Frankfurter, Hand, and others, and supports the legacy of "clear and present danger" inherited from Holmes and Brandeis. The book is thus timeless in its insight as to the true position of the Court in the legal landscape.

In FREEDOM OF SPEECH: THE SUPREME COURT AND JUDICIAL REVIEW, Shapiro offers a provocative challenge to those who uphold the judicially “modest” interpretation of the role of the Supreme Court and who would keep the Court inviolate from the political process. Each branch of the government, he says, represents specific clienteles and defends specific interests and beliefs. Shapiro argues that one of the Supreme Court’s unique functions is to defend those interests which can find no defenders elsewhere; those speakers whose methods we may not be able to countenance, whose ideologies we may deplore, whose objectives we may fear.

Part of the Classics of Law & Society Series from Quid Pro Books.

In this original, far-reaching, and timely book, Justice Stephen Breyer examines the work of the Supreme Court of the United States in an increasingly interconnected world, a world in which all sorts of activity, both public and private—from the conduct of national security policy to the conduct of international trade—obliges the Court to understand and consider circumstances beyond America’s borders.

It is a world of instant communications, lightning-fast commerce, and shared problems (like public health threats and environmental degradation), and it is one in which the lives of Americans are routinely linked ever more pervasively to those of people in foreign lands. Indeed, at a moment when anyone may engage in direct transactions internationally for services previously bought and sold only locally (lodging, for instance, through online sites), it has become clear that, even in ordinary matters, judicial awareness can no longer stop at the water’s edge.   
To trace how foreign considerations have come to inform the thinking of the Court, Justice Breyer begins with that area of the law in which they have always figured prominently: national security in its constitutional dimension—how should the Court balance this imperative with others, chiefly the protection of basic liberties, in its review of presidential and congressional actions? He goes on to show that as the world has grown steadily “smaller,” the Court’s horizons have inevitably expanded: it has been obliged to consider a great many more matters that now cross borders. What is the geographical reach of an American statute concerning, say, securities fraud, antitrust violations, or copyright protections? And in deciding such matters, can the Court interpret American laws so that they might work more efficiently with similar laws in other nations?

While Americans must necessarily determine their own laws through democratic process, increasingly, the smooth operation of American law—and, by extension, the advancement of American interests and values—depends on its working in harmony with that of other jurisdictions. Justice Breyer describes how the aim of cultivating such harmony, as well as the expansion of the rule of law overall, with its attendant benefits, has drawn American jurists into the relatively new role of “constitutional diplomats,” a little remarked but increasingly important job for them in this fast-changing world.

Written with unique authority and perspective, The Court and the World reveals an emergent reality few Americans observe directly but one that affects the life of every one of us. Here is an invaluable understanding for lawyers and non-lawyers alike.

From the Hardcover edition.
Nearing death, Old Testament patriarch Jacob extracts a promise from Naska, a Midianite trader from Damascus, to create a written record of his life among the Hebrews and of his friendship with Jacob's son, Joseph. Naska complies, dictating this prebiblical text to three Sumerian scribes. What unfolds is an extraordinarily revealing novel of life in biblical times, written more than a thousand years before the Bible was put to parchment. Sojourn in Egypt begins five years after Naska and Joseph first meet, an inauspicious meeting by any standard: Naska purchased the boy when his brothers sold him into slavery, banishing from them Jacob's favorite son. Despite the inequality of their stations, the two men develop a mutual respect and become fast friends. In Luxor, where Naska is building a massive farm on Temple lands, he and Joseph face a series of challenges and temptations that will test their faith and their friendship. Naska, lonely over his estrangement from his family, relies on his relationships with Joseph, Rufi, and with Marn, his estranged former lover, to sustain him. Joseph, the slave, concedes his life to God, trusting that he has been sent on a special mission. The Scroll was unearthed in Iraq (ancient Sumer) during Operation Desert Storm. Sent to Oxford University in England for translation, it became an instant sensation when published, but created a firestorm of controversy as new information arose from unlikely places. Narrated by Naska, Sojourn in Egypt breathes new life into a well-worn tale, revealing Joseph as an intriguing and dynamic character. Novelist Martin Shapiro has woven a captivating story of romance, love, jealousy, greed, anger, revenge, and murder. Readers will be drawn deep into the lives of Shapiro's characters, first in Sojourn in Egypt, later in sequels Caravan to Luxor and Joseph Reigns. Naska's tale is a true epic, an ancient story in which contemporary readers will face the timeless truth of the human heart and experience.

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