Packing the Court: The Rise of Judicial Power and the Coming Crisis of the Supreme Court

Packing the Court: The Rise of Judicial Power and the Coming Crisis of the Supreme Court

by James Macgregor Burns
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Packing the Court: The Rise of Judicial Power and the Coming Crisis of the Supreme Court 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
pcutler More than 1 year ago
I learned a tremendous amount about the Supreme Court and its dramatic and colorful history from this book. It's very readable, written with verve and lots of humor. Burns highlights the problems that a Court of unelected, lifetime appointees can present when it opposes the democratically-elected branches of Congress. His arguments are fresh and controversial, and always interesting and challenging. I felt that I was taking a most enjoyable course in history and American politics. A first-rate read! Highly recommended to all.
GSorenson More than 1 year ago
This book is beautifully written (as only Bruns can write) and highly originial and provocative in its approach. I couldn't put it down.
LEHFH More than 1 year ago
The book deals with some of the Court's most prominent jurists: John Marshall, Roger Taney, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis Brandeis, Hugo Black, Earl Warren and William Rehnquist; and some of its noteworthy decisions: Marbury vs. Madison, Dred Scott, The Slaughterhouse Case, Plessy vs. Ferguson, Griswold vs. Connecticut, Brown vs. the Boad of Education, Roe vs. Wade, Bush vs. Gore. Through these personalitues and decisions, it becomes clear how influential the Court has been in shaping Americs's destiny. A good deal of that power came through John Marshall, 4th chief justice, who declared that the exclusive duty of the Court was to say what the law is, and that the Constitution was nothing more and nothing less than what a majority of justices said it was. Among others, Burns cites three problems with such authority: (1) A judge can never be "objectively detached" in one's interpretation of what the law is or should be...one's upbringing, loyalties, values and passions do and will influence such decisions; (2) Most justices have been political activists before joining the Court and--with notable exceptions--do not easily abandon their party doctrines, but become "politicians in robes"; (3) A judge's life tenure (averages 26 years since 1972) often perpetuates political ideologies/attitudes that Americans have already repudiated at the ballot box, resulting in a critical time lag. The final chapter spells out the author's proposals to end "judicial supremecy." In it he calls for the American people, not 9 justices to say what the Constitution is. Lawrence E. Holst Retired Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
WordsofTruth More than 1 year ago
While Mr. Burns gives a dramatic interpretation of the Supreme Court history, it still remains his interpretation, influenced by his own "upbringing, loyalties and passions". Gifted writers can become guilty of attempting to persuade readers to their own opinion rather than artistically presenting truth from which a reader can honestly form their own opinion.  And that can be done effectively without flippancy and without dryness. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Save you time and money and don't bother with this scatter-brained snooze fest. I love history and politics but i had 80 year half dead professors that were more interesting than this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
madler28 More than 1 year ago
Packing the Court serves as an excellent primer on the history of the Supreme Court. Before I picked up the book I had been very eager to learn about the fundamental role and famous rulings of the court, and I was not disappointed. I can now talk intelligently about Justice Marshall, Justice Warren, Marbury v. Madison, McCulloch v. Maryland, Dred Scott, etc. But Burns does much more than merely walk his reader through the history. He also offers a sharp critique of and a push for overhauling the institution. His central argument is that the founding fathers never intended to put in place a judicial branch with absolute and final authority to overrule congress and determine what is and is not constitutional. As such... (check out my blog for full article: http://scholarlywritingreviewed.com/)
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