The Conscience of the Court celebrates the work of Justice William J. Brennan Jr., who served on the United States Supreme Court for thirty-four years (1956–1990).
Stephen L. Sepinuck and Mary Pat Treuthart introduce and present selected judicial opinions written by Justice Brennan on issues involving personal freedom, civil liberties, and equality. Brennan is ranked by many as the best writer ever to have served on the Supreme Court, and his written opinions depict real people, often in desperate, emotional situations. Remarkable for their clarity of analysis, for their eloquence, and for their forcefulness and persuasiveness, his opinions demonstrate that judicial thought need not be a proprietary enclave of lawyers or the intellectual elite.
The extended excerpts selected by Sepinuck and Treuthart highlight Brennan's approach to judicial decision making. Concerned always with how each decision would actually affect people's lives, Brennan possessed a rare quality of empathy. In Brennan, the editors note, "people and groups who lacked influence in society—Communists and flag burners, children and foreigners, criminal defendants and racial minorities"—found a champion they could count on "to listen to their causes and judge them unmoved by the passions of the politically powerful."
In their introduction to each opinion, the editors provide background facts, discuss how the excerpted opinion transformed the law or otherwise fit into the realm of constitutional jurisprudence, and delve into Justice Brennan's judicial philosophy, his method of constitutional interpretation, and the language he used.
When the Supreme Court struck down Colorado's Amendment 2—which would have nullified all state and local laws protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination—it was widely regarded as a victory for gay rights. Yet many gays and lesbians still risk losing their jobs, custody of their children, and even their liberty under the law. Using the Colorado initiative as his focus, Gerstmann untangles the complex standards and subtle rhetoric the Supreme Court uses to apply the equal protection clause.
The Court divides people into legal classes that receive varying levels of protection; gays and lesbians and other groups, such as the elderly and the poor, receive the least. Gerstmann reveals how these standards are used to favor certain groups over others, and also how Amendment 2 advocates used the Court's doctrine to convince voters that gays and lesbians were seeking "special rights" in Colorado.
Concluding with a call for wholesale reform of equal-protection jurisprudence, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in fair, coherent, and truly equal protection under the law.
Philosophers and historians often treat fundamental concepts like equality as if they existed only as fixed ideas found solely in the canonical texts of civilization. In Crafting Equality, Celeste Michelle Condit and John Louis Lucaites argue that the meaning of at least one key word—equality—has been forged in the day-to-day pragmatics of public discourse.
Drawing upon little studied speeches, newspapers, magazines, and other public discourse, Condit and Lucaites survey the shifting meaning of equality from 1760 to the present as a process of interaction and negotiation among different social groups in American politics and culture. They make a powerful case for the critical role of black Americans in actively shaping what equality has come to mean in our political conversation by chronicling the development of an African-American rhetorical community. The story they tell supports a vision of equality that embraces both heterogeneity and homogeneity as necessary for maintaining the balance between liberty and property.
A compelling revision of an important aspect of America's history, Crafting Equality will interest anyone wanting to better understand the role public discourse plays in affecting the major social and political issues of our times. It will also interest readers concerned with the relationship between politics and culture in America's increasingly multi-cultural society.
The expansion of married women’s property rights was a main achievement of the first wave of feminism in Latin America. As Carmen Diana Deeere and Magdalena Leon reveal, however, the disjuncture between rights and actual ownership remains vast. This is particularly true in rural areas, where the distribution of land between men and women is highly unequal. In their pioneering, twelve-country comparative study, the authors argue that property ownership is directly related to women’s bargaining power within the household and community, point out changes resulting from recent gender-progressive legislation, and identify additional areas for future reform, including inheritance rights of wives.
It cannot be fair that wealthy people enjoy better legal outcomes. That is why Frederick Wilmot-Smith argues that justice requires equal access to legal resources. At his most radical, he urges us to rethink the centrality of the market to legal systems, so that those without means can secure justice and the rich cannot escape the law’s demands.
Is it “just words” when a lawyer cross-examines a rape victim in the hopes of getting her to admit an interest in her attacker? Is it “just words” when the Supreme Court hands down a decision or when business people draw up a contract? In tackling the question of how an abstract entity exerts concrete power, Just Words focuses on what has become the central issue in law and language research: what language reveals about the nature of legal power.
John M. Conley, William M. O'Barr, and Robin Conley Riner show how the microdynamics of the legal process and the largest questions of justice can be fruitfully explored through the field of linguistics. Each chapter covers a language-based approach to a different area of the law, from the cross-examinations of victims and witnesses to the inequities of divorce mediation. Combining analysis of common legal events with a broad range of scholarship on language and law, Just Words seeks the reality of power in the everyday practice and application of the law. As the only study of its type, the book is the definitive treatment of the topic and will be welcomed by students and specialists alike. This third edition brings this essential text up to date with new chapters on nonverbal, or “multimodal,” communication in legal settings and law, language, and race.
Is it "just words" when a lawyer cross-examines a rape victim in the hopes of getting her to admit an interest in her attacker? Is it "just words" when the Supreme Court hands down a decision or when business people draw up a contract? In tackling the question of how an abstract entity exerts concrete power, Just Words focuses on what has become the central issue in law and language research: what language reveals about the nature of legal power.
Conley and O'Barr show how the microdynamics of the legal process and the largest questions of justice can be fruitfully explored through the field of linguistics. Each chapter covers a language-based approach to a different area of the law, from the cross-examinations of victims and witnesses to the inequities of divorce mediation. Combining analysis of common legal events with a broad range of scholarship on language and law, Just Words seeks the reality of power in the everyday practice and application of the law. As the only study of its type, the book is the definitive treatment of the topic that will be welcomed by students and specialists alike.
Ian Shapiro makes a compelling case that the purpose of politics should be to combat domination, and he shows what this means in practice at home and abroad. This is a major work of applied political theory, a profound challenge to utopian visions, and a guide to fundamental problems of justice and distribution.
The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees all citizens equal protection under the law as well as immunity from laws that deprive them of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. In Progressive Constitutionalism, Robin West develops an interpretation of this amendment that contrasts with the views, conservative and liberal, of the Rehnquist, Burger, and Warren Courts, and with the radical "antisubordinationist" account provided by the critical legal studies movement and many prominent feminist and critical race theorists. Her interpretation consists of a "substantive" argument regarding the Amendment’s core meaning, and a jurisprudential argument regarding the role of the courts and Congress in fulfilling the Amendment’s progressive promise. West shows how the "equal protection" clause, far from insulating the private spheres of culture, market, and home life, as is commonly held, directly targets abuses of power within those spheres. She develops a number of arguments for the modern relevance of this understanding, from the failure of the state to provide equal protection against private domestic violence, permitting a "private sovereignty" of patriarchal power within the home, to the the state’s failure to provide equal protection against material deprivation, allowing "private sovereignty" between economically privileged and desperate people in private markets. West’s argument extends to the "liberty" prong of the due process clause, seen here as a protection of the positive, not negative, liberty of citizens, covering rights in such typically controversial areas as welfare, education, and domestic safety. This interpretation recasts a number of contemporary constitutional issues, such as affirmative action and hate speech, and points to very different problems—notably private, unchecked criminal violence and extreme economic deprivation—as the central constitutional dilemmas of our day. Progressive Constitutionalism urges a substantive, institutional, and jurisprudential reorientation of our understanding of the Fourteenth Amendment, one that would necessarily be pursued through Congressional rather than judicial channels. In doing so, with attention to history and both feminist and critical race scholarship, it should reinvigorate our politics and our constitutional conversations—and, perhaps, point us toward a more just society.
Nelson Tebbe shows how a method called social coherence offers a way to resolve conflicts between advocates of religious freedom and proponents of equality law. Based on the way people reason through moral problems in everyday life, it can lead to workable solutions in a wide range of issues, including gay rights and women’s reproductive choice.
Scientific and social scientific evidence has informed judicial decisions and the making of constitutional law for decades, but for much of U.S. history it has also served as a rhetorical device to justify inequality. It is only in recent years that scientific and statistical research has helped redress discrimination—but not without controversy.
Scientific Evidence and Equal Protection of the Law provides unique insights into the judicial process and scientific inquiry by examining major decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, civil rights advocacy, and the nature of science itself. Angelo Ancheta discusses leading equal protection cases such as Brown v. Board of Education and recent litigation involving race-related affirmative action, gender inequality, and discrimination based on sexual orientation. He also examines less prominent, but equally compelling cases, including McCleskey v. Kemp, which involved statistical evidence that a state’s death penalty was disproportionately used when victims were white and defendants were black, and Castaneda v. Partida, which established key standards of evidence in addressing the exclusion of Latinos from grand jury service. For each case, Ancheta explores the tensions between scientific findings and constitutional values.
Contradicting the views commonly held by westerners, many Muslim countries in fact engage in a wide spectrum of reform, with the status of women as a central dimension. This anthology counters the myth that Islam and feminism are always or necessarily in opposition. A multidisciplinary group of scholars examine ideology, practice, and reform efforts in the areas of marriage, divorce, abortion, violence against women, inheritance, and female circumcision across the Islamic world, illuminating how religious and cultural prescriptions interact with legal norms, affecting change in sometimes surprising ways.
Race is clearly a factor in government efforts to control dangerous drugs, but the precise ways that race affects drug laws remain difficult to pinpoint. Illuminating this elusive relationship, Unequal under Law lays out how decades of both manifest and latent racism helped shape a punitive U.S. drug policy whose onerous impact on racial minorities has been willfully ignored by Congress and the courts.
Doris Marie Provine’s engaging analysis traces the history of race in anti-drug efforts from the temperance movement of the early 1900s to the crack scare of the late twentieth century, showing how campaigns to criminalize drug use have always conjured images of feared minorities. Explaining how alarm over a threatening black drug trade fueled support in the 1980s for a mandatory minimum sentencing scheme of unprecedented severity, Provine contends that while our drug laws may no longer be racist by design, they remain racist in design. Moreover, their racial origins have long been ignored by every branch of government. This dangerous denial threatens our constitutional guarantee of equal protection of law and mutes a much-needed national discussion about institutionalized racism—a discussion that Unequal under Law promises to initiate.