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Radicals in Robes: Why Extreme Right-Wing Courts Are Wrong for America

Cass R. Sunstein, Author . Basic $26 (281p) ISBN 978-0-465-08326-8

In this timely and keen analysis of how judges interpret the Constitution today, Sunstein, a University of Chicago law professor and New Republic contributor, espouses what he calls a "minimalist" approach that respects precedent and takes only small-scale steps forward, and lashes out at the "fundamentalism" practiced by extreme conservative judges. Legal fundamentalists profess to base their interpretations on the meanings ascribed to the Constitution by the original ratifiers. But in many respects, Sunstein says, fundamentalists ignore, or misread, the history they claim to venerate. Further, he says many fundamentalist positions would undermine liberties Americans have come to value—rights that one fundamentalist judge, offering the example of the right to privacy, says were created out of whole cloth by the Supreme Court. For Sunstein, capitulation to the fundamentalists could lead to state (but not federal) establishment of religion, to the elimination of a protected right to privacy and to invalidation of most environmental regulations. We should be skeptical, the author insists, when political ideology seems to dictate judges' constitutional doctrine. This compressed book covers all the hot-button constitutional issues in 10 short, plainly written chapters. Americans monitoring the upcoming Senate deliberations over Bush's nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court will want to bear in mind the arguments Sunstein so trenchantly presents. Agent, Sydelle Kramer. (Sept. 6)

Reviewed on: 07/25/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
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