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Constitutional Rights, Moral Controversy, and the Supreme Court

  • Date Published: November 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521755955


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About the Authors
  • In this important book, Michael J. Perry examines three of the most disputed constitutional issues of our time: capital punishment, state laws banning abortion, and state policies denying the benefit of law to same-sex unions. The author, a leading constitutional scholar, explains that if a majority of the justices of the Supreme Court believes that a law violates the Constitution, it does not necessarily follow that the Court should rule that the law is unconstitutional. In cases in which it is argued that a law violates the Constitution, the Supreme Court must decide which of two importantly different questions it should address: is the challenged law unconstitutional? Is the lawmakers' judgment that the challenged law is constitutional a reasonable judgment? Perry not only illuminates moral controversies that implicate one or more constitutionally entrenched human rights, but also the fundamental question of the Supreme Court's proper role in adjudicating such controversies.

    • Examines the death penalty, abortion and same-sex unions
    • In doing so explores three of the most controversial constitutional issues
    • Asks what the Supreme Court's role should be in these controversies
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    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of the hardback: 'Perry's book presents an elegant, comprehensive, but remarkably concise exposition of how human rights claims should be treated in constitutional adjudication. On the way, it offers a compelling recapitulation of the moral and legal arguments associated with three of the most contentious issues in American politics: capital punishment, abortion and same-sex marriage. Perry's discussions of these difficult questions are clear, smart, and painstakingly fair.' Richard S. Kay, University of Connecticut School of Law

    Review of the hardback: 'Michael Perry lights a blazing path out of today's deepest political gulfs. Nobody who reads this book will think about the death penalty, abortion, gay rights, indeed about democracy, in the same way again. Elegantly simple, powerful, and practical, Perry's book belongs on every citizen's nightstand.' Jason Mazzone, Brooklyn Law School

    Review of the hardback: 'Should a court presume to strike down a democratically enacted law as 'unconstitutional' even though scholars, judges, and citizens emphatically disagree about what the Constitution means? Michael Perry addresses this question with passion and insight and with respect to 'hot button' issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. His answers will persuade some and provoke others, but either way they force us to think hard about a question of crucial importance to a diverse and democratic nation.' Steven Smith, University of San Diego

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2008
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521755955
    • length: 266 pages
    • dimensions: 216 x 140 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.41kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: a partial theory of judicial review
    1. Human rights: from morality to constitutional law
    2. Constitutionally entrenched human rights, the Supreme Court, and Thayerian deference
    3. Capital punishment
    4. Same-sex unions
    5. Abortion
    6. Thayerian deference revisited
    Postscript: religion as a basis of lawmaking?

  • Author

    Michael J. Perry, Emory University, Atlanta

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