The Supreme Court versus Congress: Disrupting the Balance of Power, 1789-2014

The Supreme Court versus Congress: Disrupting the Balance of Power, 1789-2014

by William B. Glidden


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A comprehensive and focused review of all of the Supreme Court's overturns of Congress on constitutional grounds from 1789 to the present suited to college-level political science and constitutional law courses as well as law school students.

The always-controversial practice of judicial review of Congress is not prescribed in the Constitution, but is arguably a valid way to protect the rights of individuals or guard against unfair rule by the majority. This book offers a historical review and indictment of the Supreme Court's overruling of Congress, ultimately taking a position that this has been more detrimental than beneficial to the democratic process in the United States, and that in the aggregate rights of individuals and minorities would have been better served if the relevant laws of Congress had been enforced rather than struck down by the Court.

Written by an author who is a historian and a lawyer, the book covers all Supreme Court overrides of Congress through 2014, including major historical turning points in Supreme Court legislation and such recent and relevant topics as the Affordable Care Act, limits on contributions to political candidates and campaigns from wealthy individuals, and the Defense of Marriage Act. The discussions of specific cases are made in relevant context and focus on "big picture" themes and concepts without skipping key details, making this a useful volume for law and university level students while also being accessible to general readers.

• Supplies a balanced and comprehensive examination of Supreme Court overrides of Congress that recognizes both good and bad decisions but portrays how Congress performs better than the Court in terms of being faithful to the Constitution—and in promoting and protecting the rights of individuals and minorities

• Discusses cases in relevant context and focuses on "big picture" themes and concepts, avoiding legal jargon and technicalities to make the text accessible to general readers

• Provides a historical and contemporaneous review of Supreme Court-Congress interactions with explanations of future implications

• Offers a historical review and indictment of the Supreme Court's overruling of Congress, ultimately taking a position that this has been more detrimental than of benefit to the democratic process in the United States

• Enables readers to obtain a richer understanding of the relationship that has pertained between Congress and the Court throughout U.S. history

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440835193
Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date: 03/17/2015
Pages: 250
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

William B. Glidden, PhD, JD, taught history and government at Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY, for three years, before spending the rest of his career as a lawyer at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a bureau in the Treasury Department that regulates national banks.

What People are Saying About This

Robin West

"The Supreme Court versus Congress is a masterful interpretation and evaluation of the practice of judicial review. Glidden examines all of the Supreme Court's major cases striking down federal legislation, from Justice Marshall's decision in Marbury v Madison, which established the practice, to its unfortunate decision in Citizen's United and its recent treatments of the Voting Rights Act and the Affordable Care Act. He looks in particular at the Court's gutting of the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantees of liberty and equality, and its evisceration of Congress's role in enforcing those guarantees under Section Five of that Amendment. He concludes that on balance the practice of judicial review is not authorized by the Constitution itself, has harmed the country more than it has helped us, and that Congress should reclaim its authority to reign in the Court by restricting its jurisdictional reach, at least with respect to core legislation that commands broad popular support. This is an important and balanced assessment of this central judicial practice by an accomplished lawyer and Supreme Court scholar."

Mark A. Graber

"William Glidden, after penning the most comprehensive survey of the judicial power to declare laws unconstitutional that I know of, finds the Supreme Court wanting. Anyone wishing to defend, oppose, or simply be aware of that judicial power should be familiar with the arguments and analysis in this book."

Mark Tushnet

"William Glidden's survey of Supreme Court cases holding national statutes unconstitutional—some familiar, others much less so—provides the basis for evaluating whether judicial review of national legislation has been on balance good for the country. It is a valuable resource no matter what your judgment on the bottom line question is."

Eric J. Segall

"William Glidden makes a compelling case that we would all be better off if the Supreme Court exercised much more deferential judicial review over acts of Congress. The prose is clear and accessible and the data provided comprehensive. Anyone thinking about the relative roles of the Congress and the Court in our political system would be well-advised to read this fine book."

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