Judicial Power and American Character

Judicial Power and American Character : Censoring Ourselves in an Anxious Age

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In this highly original book, Robert Nagel demonstrates how contemporary constitutional politics relate to the moral character of American culture. He argues persuasively that judicial decisions reflect wider social tendencies towards moral evasiveness, privatization, and opportunism. Constitutional interpretation, he urges, is often an effort to stifle political disagreement and, ultimately, to censor our own beliefs and traditions. Nagel ranges over such controversial topics as the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas and Robert Bork, local resistance to abortion rights, political correctness on campus, and judicial decisions dealing with pornography, flag burning, gay rights, school prayer, and racial desegregation.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 198 pages
  • 162.6 x 242.6 x 18.8mm | 482.72g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195089014
  • 9780195089011

Review quote

"Professor Nagel's provocative book questions why an essentially undemocratic body like the Supreme Court should get the last word on the troubling moral issues of our day....An erudite argument."--Commonweal"The best analysis yet of the Court's method, and of the relation of its style to its purposes."--Chronicle"This is a major contribution to constitutional theory and practice, a significant work of social criticism, and a great pleasure to read. As for an originality of ideas, it is here in abundance. Professor Nagel writes from a perspective that pays enormous respect to the common understandings of society."--Lee C. Bollinger, Provost, Dartmouth College"A thoughtful essay on the role of the Supreme Court in our society....Highly recommended."--Choiceshow more

Back cover copy

Clearly written and forcefully argued, this book is an audacious examination of judicial power as an integral part of an increasingly anxious culture. This original work is an unusual effort to relate modern constitutional politics to the moral character of American culture. Writing in non-technical language, Nagel demonstrates how judicial decisions embody wider social tendencies toward moral evasiveness, privatization, and opportunism. He shows that constitutional interpretation is often used to stifle political disagreement and, ultimately, to censor our own beliefs and traditions.show more

About Robert F. Nagel

Robert F. Nagel is Ira Rothgerber, Jr., Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Colorado and author of Constitutional Cultures: The Mentality and Consequence of Judicial Review (1989). He has written for the New Republic, Washington Monthly, Public Interest, Wall Street Journal, and the National Review.show more