In this humorous and upbeat memoir, James Wickersham describes his career as a pioneer judge and later as a congressional representative assigned to a vast, snow-covered district, extending over 300,000 square miles in the undeveloped Alaska Territory. Wickersham’s many adventures include traveling by dogsled over hundreds of miles through snow-covered mountains; serving as judge for the trials of many famous outlaws in the midst of the gold strikes; and hunting, mining, and climbing in his local Alaska wilderness. Though he was instrumental in the early history of Alaska, and his legacy is evident throughout the state—for example, he named the city of Fairbanks—this is the first and only work to focus on Wickersham’s life during this pivotal time in Alaska’s history.
The U.S. Supreme Court, with its controlled, highly institutionalized decision-making practices, provides an ideal environment for studying coalition formation. The process begins during the oral argument stage, which provides the justices with their first opportunity to hear one another's attitudes and concerns specific to a case. This information gathering allows them eventually to form a coalition.
In order to uncover the workings of this process, the authors analyze oral argument transcripts from every case decided from 1998 through 2007 as well as the complete collection of notes kept during oral arguments by Justice Lewis F. Powell and Justice Harry A. Blackmun. Both justices clearly monitored their fellow justices' participation in the discussion and used their observations to craft opinions their colleagues would be likely to support. This study represents a major step forward in the understanding of coalition formation, which is a crucial aspect of many areas of political debate and decision making.
Originalism holds that the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted according to its meaning at the time it was enacted. In their innovative defense of originalism, John McGinnis and Michael Rappaport maintain that the text of the Constitution should be adhered to by the Supreme Court because it was enacted by supermajorities—both its original enactment under Article VII and subsequent Amendments under Article V. A text approved by supermajorities has special value in a democracy because it has unusually wide support and thus tends to maximize the welfare of the greatest number.The authors recognize and respond to many possible objections. Does originalism perpetuate the dead hand of the past? How can following the original meaning be justified, given that African Americans and women were excluded from the enactment of the Constitution in 1787 and many of its subsequent Amendments? What is originalism’s place in interpretation of the Constitution, when after two hundred years there is so much non-originalist precedent?A fascinating counterfactual they pose is this: had the Supreme Court not interpreted the Constitution so freely, perhaps the nation would have resorted to the Article V amendment process more often and with greater effect. Their book will be an important contribution to the literature on originalism, which is now the most prominent theory of constitutional interpretation.
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