Administering Justice examines the leadership role of chief justices in the American states, including how those duties require chief justices to be part of the broader state political environment. Vining and Wilhelm focus extensively on the power of chief justices as public spokespersons, legislative liaisons, and reform leaders. In contrast to much existing research on chief justices in the states, this study weighs their extrajudicial responsibilities rather than intracourt leadership. By assessing the content of State of the Judiciary remarks delivered over a period of sixty years, Vining and Wilhelm are able to analyze the reform agendas advanced by chief justices and determine what factors influence the likelihood of success. These analyses confirm that chief justices engage with state politics in meaningful ways and that reactions to their proposals are influenced by ideological congruence with other political elites and the scope of their requests. Administering Justice also examines the chief justice position as an institution, provides a collective profile of its occupants, and surveys growing diversity among court leaders.
Agent Orange on Trial is a riveting legal drama with all the suspense of a courtroom thriller. One of the Vietnam War’s farthest reaching legacies was the Agent Orange case. In this unprecedented personal injury class action, veterans charge that a valuable herbicide, indiscriminately sprayed on the luxuriant Vietnam jungle a generation ago, has now caused cancers, birth defects, and other devastating health problems. Peter Schuck brilliantly recounts the gigantic confrontation between two million ex-soldiers, the chemical industry, and the federal government. From the first stirrings of the lawyers in 1978 to the court plan in 1985 for distributing a record $200 million settlement, the case, which is now on appeal, has extended the frontiers of our legal system in all directions.In a book that is as much about innovative ways to look at the law as it is about the social problems arising from modern science, Schuck restages a sprawling, complex drama. The players include dedicated but quarrelsome veterans, a crusading litigator, class action organizers, flamboyant trial lawyers, astute court negotiators, and two federal judges with strikingly different judicial styles. High idealism, self-promotion, Byzantine legal strategies, and judicial creativity combine in a fascinating portrait of a human struggle for justice through law.The Agent Orange case is the most perplexing and revealing example until now of a new legal genre: the mass toxic tort. Such cases, because of their scale, cost, geographical and temporal dispersion, and causal uncertainty, present extraordinarily difficult challenges to our legal system. They demand new approaches to procedure, evidence, and the definition of substantive legal rights and obligations, as well as new roles for judges, juries, and regulatory agencies. Schuck argues that our legal system must be redesigned if it is to deal effectively with the increasing number of chemical disasters such as the Bhopal accident, ionizing radiation, asbestos, DES, and seepage of toxic wastes. He imaginatively reveals the clash between our desire for simple justice and the technical demands of a complex legal system.
Baffled by the stereotypes presented by Hollywood and much historical fiction, many other Americans find the contemporary American Indian an enigma. Compounding their confusion is the highly publicized struggle of the contemporary Indian for self-determination, lost land, cultural preservation, and fundamental human rights—a struggle dramatized both by public acts of protest and by precedent-setting legal actions. More and more, the battles of American Indians are fought—and won—in the political arena and the courts.
American Indians, American Justice explores the complexities of the present Indian situation, particularly with regard to legal and political rights. It is the first book to present an overview of federal Indian law in language readably accessible to the layperson. Remarkably comprehensive, it is destined to become a standard sourcebook for all concerned with the plight of the contemporary Indian.
Beginning with an examination of the historical relationship of Indians and the courts, the authors describe how tribal courts developed and operate today, and how they relate to federal and state governments. They define such key legal concepts as tribal sovereignty and Indian Country. By comparing and contrasting the workings of Indian and non-Indian legal institutions, the authors illustrate how Indian tribes have adapted their customs, values, and institutions to the demands of the modern world. Describing the activities of attorneys and Indian advocates in asserting and defending Indian rights, they identify the difficulties typically faced by Indians in the criminal and civil legal arenas and explore the public policy and legal rights of Indians as regards citizenship, voting rights, religious freedom, and basic governmental services.
A sitting justice reflects upon the authority of the Supreme Court—how that authority was gained and how measures to restructure the Court could undermine both the Court and the constitutional system of checks and balances that depends on it.A growing chorus of officials and commentators argues that the Supreme Court has become too political. On this view the confirmation process is just an exercise in partisan agenda-setting, and the jurists are no more than “politicians in robes”—their ostensibly neutral judicial philosophies mere camouflage for conservative or liberal convictions.Stephen Breyer, drawing upon his experience as a Supreme Court justice, sounds a cautionary note. Mindful of the Court’s history, he suggests that the judiciary’s hard-won authority could be marred by reforms premised on the assumption of ideological bias. Having, as Hamilton observed, “no influence over either the sword or the purse,” the Court earned its authority by making decisions that have, over time, increased the public’s trust. If public trust is now in decline, one part of the solution is to promote better understandings of how the judiciary actually works: how judges adhere to their oaths and how they try to avoid considerations of politics and popularity.Breyer warns that political intervention could itself further erode public trust. Without the public’s trust, the Court would no longer be able to act as a check on the other branches of government or as a guarantor of the rule of law, risking serious harm to our constitutional system.
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