A Mere Machine: The Supreme Court, Congress, and American by Anna Harvey

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By Anna Harvey

Introductory textbooks on American govt let us know that the perfect court docket is autonomous from the elected branches and that self sustaining courts greater defend rights than their extra deferential opposite numbers. yet are those proof or myths?
In this groundbreaking new paintings, Anna Harvey experiences facts exhibiting that the ultimate court docket is in truth terribly deferential to congressional personal tastes in its constitutional rulings. interpreting cross-national proof, Harvey additionally reveals that the rights protections we get pleasure from within the usa seem to be principally when you consider that we don't have an self sustaining excellent court docket. in reality, we might most likely have even larger protections for political and fiscal rights have been we to ban our federal courts from exercise judicial assessment altogether. Harvey’s findings recommend that constitutional designers will be clever to heed Thomas Jefferson’s suggestion to “let mercy be the nature of the law-giver, yet enable the pass judgement on be an insignificant machine.”

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Extra resources for A Mere Machine: The Supreme Court, Congress, and American Democracy

Sample text

Legislators, executives, and judges in any given country may, on average, prefer greater or fewer protections for economic and political rights relative to the legislators, executives, and judges in some other country. But within any single country, there is no reason to expect sincere judicial preferences over rights to be any different from sincere legislative and/or executive preferences over rights. The institutional rules governing these officials’ survival in office, however, may well induce office-specific differences in revealed rights preferences.

For most of the Warren and Burger Court terms, for example, the preferences of the median justice and the median representative diverged only slightly. The liberal Warren Court justices faced relatively liberal Democratic House majorities during all but that Court’s first term. While these House majorities are estimated to have had somewhat less liberal preferences than the majority on the Court, the magnitude of the resulting conservative constraint on the Court is nonetheless relatively small, particularly after the 1964 congressional elections.

Those who advocate judicial independence rarely address judicial incentives, or explain why they believe that unaccountable judges can be trusted to protect individual rights and liberties. Some appear to assume that judges are simply immune from the need to be incentivized into good behavior, or that judges are somehow intrinsically different from other holders of public office. ”69 The American Bar Association’s 1997 Report on an Independent Judiciary noted, “We expect a great deal from our judges.

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