If American history can truly be traced through the majority decisions in landmark Supreme Court cases, then what about the dissenting opinions? In issues of race, gender, privacy, workers' rights, and more, would advances have been impeded or failures rectified if the dissenting opinions were in fact the majority opinions? Read more...
If American history can truly be traced through the majority decisions in landmark Supreme Court cases, then what about the dissenting opinions? In issues of race, gender, privacy, workers' rights, and more, would advances have been impeded or failures rectified if the dissenting opinions were in fact the majority opinions?
In offering thirteen famous dissents-from "Marbury v. Madison" and "Brown v. Board of Education" to "Griswold v. Connecticut" and "Lawrence v. Texas," each edited with the judges' eloquence preserved-renowned Supreme Court scholar Mark Tushnet reminds us that court decisions are not pronouncements issued by the utterly objective, they are in fact political statements from highly intelligent but partisan people. Tushnet introduces readers to the very concept of dissent in the courts and then provides useful context for each case, filling in gaps in the Court's history and providing an overview of the issues at stake. After each case, he considers the impact the dissenting opinion would have had, if it had been the majority decision.
Lively and accessible, "I Dissent" offers a radically fresh view of the judiciary in a collection that is essential reading for anyone interested in American history.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 125.
- Review Date: 2008-04-28
- Reviewer: Staff
Harvard law professor Tushnet is a rigorous scholar, able to explain creative and often provocative constitutional theory in accessible language. He argues that, often, it is not the Supreme Court's majority opinion that prevails in the long run but that of the dissenters. To explain why this is true, Tushnet draws on the intriguing theory of “popular constitutionalism”—the idea that the long-term contours of constitutional law are determined not by the Supreme Court but by a popular consensus that emerges from the interaction of evolving conceptions of morality, legislative power, economic necessity and politics. And, Tushnet says, the high court's “great dissenters” are those—such as Oliver Wendell Holmes and William O. Douglas—who anticipate the future consensus. In looking at dissents dealing with civil rights, school desegregation and the reach of government into consensual private conduct, Tushnet examines this process and the pitfalls that face justices trying to predict the future. Tushnet offers no small thing: a different way to think about the role of the Supreme Court in American life. (June)