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Defending Congress and the Constitution

Overview

The culmination of four decades of research and service on behalf of Congress, Louis Fisher's latest work is a fitting capstone to a remarkable career as scholar and writer and presents his most articulate, passionate, and persuasive defense yet of Congress as an institution.

Our nation's leading authority on the separation of powers, Fisher offers a lucid primer on our nation's government and its executive, legislative, and judicial branches while vigorously advocating a robust...

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Lawrence 2011 Softcover Studies in Government and Public Policy series. 384 pages. Softcover. Brand new book. GOVERNMENT. The culmination of four decades of research and service ... on behalf of Congress, Louis Fisher's latest work is a fitting capstone to a remarkable career as scholar and writer and presents his most articulate, passionate, and persuasive defense yet of Congress as an institution. Our nation's leading authority on the separation of powers, Fisher offers a lucid primer on our nation's government and its executive, legislative, and judicial branches while vigorously advocating a robust reassertion of Congress's rightful role within that system. Drawing on a wide range of legislation, Supreme Court rulings, and presidential decisions, Fisher illuminates the contentious contest among the three major branches for power and control of government, presents a panorama of American history, and touches on issues as wide-ranging as federalism, religious freedom, and national security policy. Fisher is Read more Show Less

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Overview

The culmination of four decades of research and service on behalf of Congress, Louis Fisher's latest work is a fitting capstone to a remarkable career as scholar and writer and presents his most articulate, passionate, and persuasive defense yet of Congress as an institution.

Our nation's leading authority on the separation of powers, Fisher offers a lucid primer on our nation's government and its executive, legislative, and judicial branches while vigorously advocating a robust reassertion of Congress's rightful role within that system. Drawing on a wide range of legislation, Supreme Court rulings, and presidential decisions, Fisher illuminates the contentious contest among the three major branches for power and control of government, presents a panorama of American history, and touches on issues as wide-ranging as federalism, religious freedom, and national security policy.

Fisher is especially critical of the stereotypical view of the Supreme Court's decisions as possessing a kind of effectiveness and absolute finality that transcends the efforts and powers of Congress. Indeed, he argues that Congress, as much or more than the judiciary, has had a major positive impact on protecting individual rights in this country, while the judiciary has fallen short in such areas as child labor regulation and compulsory flag salute-or has attempted to settle a constitutional issue only to have it fester for years, breeding anger and resentment, until the political process forces the courts rethink their views. He highlights legislative accomplishments in many areas, often in the face of judicial opposition and obstruction, but also chides Congress for not protecting its key prerogatives over the power of the purse and going to war.

In yielding to other branches, Fishers warns, lawmakers fail to represent their constituents and cripple the very system of checks and balances the Framers counted on to limit the destructive capacity of government. His book offers a wealth of forceful insights and provides an important reminder of and guide to how our government should really work.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Fisher argues that Congress should neither 'genuflect' nor engage in 'idolatry' toward the other branches, closely analyzing areas such as judicial review, federalism, religious freedom, individual rights, war powers, and where he provides an especially good critique, the federal budgeting process. He covers less studied topics as well, notably the role of expert congressional staff, an area he knows firsthand."—Library Journal

"Fisher's book is valuable not only for the Congress-oriented perspective it brings to constitutional history, but also because it helps identify research paths that others can profitably pursue."—Review of Politics

"Fisher pulls no punches, rninces no words, and spares no criticism of the courts and the presidency. His disdain for presidential overreach is nonpartisan. . . . Defending Congress and the Constitution describes how a mix of judicial and nonjudicial forces by all three branches have shaped the Constitution. Although not denying the Court's right and duty to interpret the Constitution, Fisher does not accept it as the final and exclusive interpreter. . . . Closely reasoned and passionately argued, this book belongs on the shelves of every member of

Congress."—Federal Lawyer

Library Journal
The author himself provides an apt description of this book when he refers in its final pages to his "battering ram" argument that Congress shares the duty of constitutional interpretation with the Supreme Court. That term might also be applied to Fisher's 40-year career as a scholar and congressional staff member, when he wrote some 20 books in consistent defense of the prerogatives of Congress against those of the President and the Court. Here again he takes up this argument, that Congress should neither "genuflect" nor engage in "idolatry" toward the other branches, closely analyzing areas such as judicial review, federalism, religious freedom, individual rights, war powers, and, where he provides an especially good critique, the federal budgeting process. Fisher covers less studied topics as well, notably the role of expert congressional staff, an area he knows firsthand. VERDICT While Fisher's learning is broad and deep, his style is pugnacious and repetitive. Readers familiar with Fisher might find the book wearing in a particular way, since he has covered much of this ground in earlier books, most recently in On Appreciating Congress (2010), a more accessible version of this one.—Bob Nardini, Nashville
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700617999
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 7/19/2011
  • Pages: 374
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Louis Fisher is Scholar in Residence at the Constitution Project. He previously worked at the Library of Congress as Senior Specialist in Separation of Powers (Congressional Research Service) and Specialist in Constitutional Law (Law Library) and has testified before Congress fifty times. He is the author of twenty books, including The Constitution and 9/11 and Military Tribunals and Presidential Power, winner of the 2006 Richard Neustadt Book Award for Best Book on the American Presidency.

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Table of Contents

Preface

Notes on Citations

1. Constitutional Values

2. Unpacking Marbury

3. Elected Branch Interpretations

4. Federalism

5. Individual Rights

6. Religious Freedom

7. Investigation and Oversight

8. Budgetary Clashes

9. National Security Policy

10. Analytical Support

Conclusions

Selected Bibliography

About the Author

Index of Cases

Index of Subjects

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