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The Intelligible Constitution

Author: Joseph Goldstein
Publisher: Oxford University Press on Demand
ISBN: 0195093755
Size: 33.62 MB
Format: PDF
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In Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, a critical abortion rights case, a bitterly divided Supreme Court produced no less than six different opinions. Writing for the plurality, Chief Justice Rehnquist attacked the trimester framework established in Roe v. Wade because it was "not found in the text of the Constitution or in any place else one would expect to find a constitutional principle." This approach, writes legal authority Joseph Goldstein, confuses constitutional principles (in this case, the right to privacy) with the means to protect them (here, the trimester system). As a result, the Court left the public bewildered about the constitutional scope of a woman's right to reproductive choice--failing in its duty to speak clearly to the American public about the Constitution. In The Intelligible Constitution, Goldstein makes a compelling argument that, in a democracy based upon informed consent, the Supreme Court has an obligation to communicate clearly and candidly to We the People when it interprets the Constitution. After a fascinating discussion of the language of the Constitution and Supreme Court opinions (including the analysis of Webster), he presents a series of opinion studies in important cases, focusing not on ideology but on the Justices' clarity of thought and expression. Using the two Brown v. Board of Education cases, Cooper v. Aaron, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, and others as his examples, Goldstein demonstrates the pitfalls to which the Court has succumbed in the past: Writing deliberately ambiguous decisions to win the votes of colleagues, challenging each others' opinions in private but not in public, and not speaking honestly when the writer knows a concurring Justice misunderstands the opinion which he or she is supporting. Even some landmark decisions, he writes, have featured seriously flawed opinions--preventing We the People from understanding why the Justices reasoned as they did, and why they disagreed with each other. He goes on to suggest five "canons of comprehensibility" for Supreme Court opinions, to ensure that the Justices explain themselves clearly, honestly, and unambiguously, so that all the various opinions in each case would constitute a comprehensible message about their accord and discord in interpreting the Constitution. Both a fascinating look at how the Court shapes its opinions and a clarion call to action, this book provides an important addition to our understanding of how to maintain the Constitution as a living document, by and for the People, in its third century.

American Constitutional Law

Author: Donald P. Kommers
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9780742526938
Size: 12.44 MB
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Discusses the history of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, the involvement of the United States in the peace process, and the changing face of terrorism in the twenty-first century.

Constitutional Stupidities Constitutional Tragedies

Author: Murphy Institute of Political Economy
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 9780814751312
Size: 41.44 MB
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Over fifty years ago, Will Herberg theorized that future immigrants to the United States would no longer identify themselves through their races or ethnicities, or through the languages and cultures of their home countries. Rather, modern immigrants would base their identities on their religions. The landscape of U.S. immigration has changed dramatically since Herberg first published his theory. Most of today’s immigrants are Asian or Latino, and are thus unable to shed their racial and ethnic identities as rapidly as the Europeans about whom Herberg wrote. And rather than a flexible, labor-based economy hungry for more workers, today’s immigrants find themselves in a post-industrial segmented economy that allows little in the way of class mobility. In this comprehensive anthology contributors draw on ethnography and in-depth interviews to examine the experiences of the new second generation: the children of Asian and Latino immigrants. Covering a diversity of second-generation religious communities including Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and Jews, the contributors highlight the ways in which race, ethnicity, and religion intersect for new Americans. As the new second generation of Latinos and Asian Americans comes of age, they will not only shape American race relations, but also the face of American religion.