Saying What the Law Is: The Constitution in the Supreme Court

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Overview

In a few thousand words the Constitution sets up the government of the United States and proclaims the basic human and political rights of its people. From the interpretation and elaboration of those words in over 500 volumes of Supreme Court cases comes the constitutional law that structures our government and defines our individual relationship to that government. This book fills the need for an account of that law free from legal jargon and clear enough to inform the educated layperson, yet which does not condescend or slight critical nuance, so that its judgments and analyses will engage students, practitioners, judges, and scholars.

Taking the reader up to and through such controversial recent Supreme Court decisions as the Texas sodomy case and the University of Michigan affirmative action case, Charles Fried sets out to make sense of the main topics of constitutional law: the nature of doctrine, federalism, separation of powers, freedom of expression, religion, liberty, and equality.

Fried draws on his knowledge as a teacher and scholar, and on his unique experience as a practitioner before the Supreme Court, a former Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, and Solicitor General of the United States to offer an evenhanded account not only of the substance of constitutional law, but of its texture and underlying themes. His book firmly draws the reader into the heart of today's constitutional battles. He understands what moves today's Court and that understanding illuminates his analyses.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
One-time prosecutor, judge, and now Constitutional theorist Fried (Harvard) creates a framework for understanding the role of Constitutional doctrine in dictating and guiding the intricate relationships between government and the political and social structures it purports to control. Fried addresses one of the toughest challenges facing the student of federalism: aside from the powers specifically granted by the Constitution to Congress and the President, what becomes of the rest or balance of powers that a government might enjoy? Noting that the states inherited, upon independence, the level of power exercised by the King-in-Parliament over British territories in general, Fried strongly advances the theory that the Constitution was the creation of the states, which transferred some part of their sovereignty to the new national government, rather than an original creation of the sovereign people of the nation as a whole. Backing up this assertion, the author notes, is the trend of recent Supreme Court rulings establishing in doctrines a correlate for the assumed distinct constitutional status of the states. Carefully analyzing these decisions, Fried delineates twin strands of constitutional theory that together comprise the Court's current philosophy regarding the proper balance between the federal and state entities. Required reading for students of Constitutional law and a highly recommended addition to all significant legal collections.-Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Lib., First Judicial Dist., New York Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674013025
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2004
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Fried is Beneficial Professor of Law, Harvard University.

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Table of Contents

Preface
1 Doctrine 1
2 Federalism 13
3 Separation of Powers 49
4 Speech 78
5 Religion 143
6 Liberty and Property 170
7 Equality 207
Afterword 241
Notes 249
Table of Cases 299
Index 307
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