Closing the Courthouse Door: How Your Constitutional Rights Became Unenforceable

Closing the Courthouse Door: How Your Constitutional Rights Became Unenforceable

by Erwin Chemerinsky


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A leading legal scholar explores how the constitutional right to seek justice has been restricted by the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court’s decisions on constitutional rights are well known and much talked about. But individuals who want to defend those rights need something else as well: access to courts that can rule on their complaints. And on matters of access, the Court’s record over the past generation has been almost uniformly hostile to the enforcement of individual citizens’ constitutional rights. The Court has restricted who has standing to sue, expanded the immunity of governments and government workers, limited the kinds of cases the federal courts can hear, and restricted the right of habeas corpus. Closing the Courthouse Door, by the distinguished legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, is the first book to show the effect of these decisions: taken together, they add up to a growing limitation on citizens’ ability to defend their rights under the Constitution. Using many stories of people whose rights have been trampled yet who had no legal recourse, Chemerinsky argues that enforcing the Constitution should be the federal courts’ primary purpose, and they should not be barred from considering any constitutional question.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300211580
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 01/10/2017
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 838,279
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Erwin Chemerinsky is the founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law and Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, with a joint appointment in Political Science.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 Why Do We Have Federal Courts? 1

2 Suing the Government: The King Can Do Wrong 20

3 Suing Government Officers 55

4 An Alleged Constitutional Violation Always Should Be Adjudicated 93

5 The Great Writ: How Habeas Corpus Has Been Suspended 137

6 Opening the Federal Courthouse Doors 169

7 Enforcing the Constitution 200

Notes 211

Acknowledgments 243

Index 245

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