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Harvard law professor Tushnet is a rigorous scholar, able to explain creative and often provocative constitutional theory in accessible language. He argues that, often, it is not the Supreme Court's majority opinion that prevails in the long run but that of the dissenters. To explain why this is true, Tushnet draws on the intriguing theory of "popular constitutionalism"—the idea that the long-term contours of constitutional law are determined not by the Supreme Court but by a popular consensus that emerges from the interaction of evolving conceptions of morality, legislative power, economic necessity and politics. And, Tushnet says, the high court's "great dissenters" are those—such as Oliver Wendell Holmes and William O. Douglas—who anticipate the future consensus. In looking at dissents dealing with civil rights, school desegregation and the reach of government into consensual private conduct, Tushnet examines this process and the pitfalls that face justices trying to predict the future. Tushnet offers no small thing: a different way to think about the role of the Supreme Court in American life. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.