The Aristocracy of the Long Robe: The Origins of Judicial Review in America

Hardcover | September 1, 1989

byJack M. Sosin

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Is judicial review constitutionally required or even authorized? Can it be said whether the federal courts exercise this power with the consent of the electorate? Sosin addresses these challenging questions in the broad context of the Anglo-American historical experience. He examines the evolution of courts of judicature and legislatures and the contests for power that were waged from the seventeenth to eighteenth century. The origins of the English court system and the establishment of common law are first described. The author traces the rise in judicial and parliamentary power that occurred with the erosion of the "royal prerogative" and discusses the constitutional and legal heritage that provided the framework for law, courts, and legislatures in colonial America. Following an examination of political, legislative, and legal development during the colonial period, Sosin looks at the philosophical and ideological controversies that influenced the framing of the Constitution, particulary the conflicting views of the proper relationship between the legislature and judiciary. Despite the emphatic opposition voiced by some framers to giving judges the power to overturn legislative action by ruling on the "constitutionality" of federal laws, the Supreme Court was able to declare itself the final arbiter and "ultimate interpreter" of the Constitution as early as the first decade of the nineteenth century. The author's analysis indicates that the Court's assumption of the power of judicial review was neither inevitable politically nor the logical result of the founders desire to limit government and protect the rights of individuals against interferences by public authority. Echoing earlyEnglish and American political figures, Sosin asks whether this expanded, arbitrary judicial power can be considered appropriate in a representative democracy. The product of meticulous research and careful historical analysis, this provocative study will be relevant reading for a variety of courses in American government, political science, and history.

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Is judicial review constitutionally required or even authorized? Can it be said whether the federal courts exercise this power with the consent of the electorate? Sosin addresses these challenging questions in the broad context of the Anglo-American historical experience. He examines the evolution of courts of judicature and legislatur...

Format:HardcoverDimensions:369 pages, 9.41 × 7.24 × 0.98 inPublished:September 1, 1989Publisher:GREENWOOD PRESS INC.

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0313267332

ISBN - 13:9780313267338

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?Sosin has written a perplexing book. Its title is indicative of the historical, as opposed to juridical or legalistic, methodological approach to the study of the origins of American judicial review, which in fact is the focus of the book. This orientation helps explain the extended chapters on English judicial and legal history that focus on the relations and conflicts among law, lawgivers, and judges. Successive chapters trace legislative-judicial practice and conflict in Colonial America and, later, the US. Yet Sosin announces at the outset that his book is not an attempt at legal history but rather a study in politics.' Indeed it is. On the basis of a survey of English practice and American Colonial case law and legal controversies, the author engages in a sometimes heated complaint against the emergence of a Transcendently Omnipotent' Court' in opposition to the historical evidence that no precedent for such a Court can be found in English or Colonial American practice. Paradoxically, his review of Colonial controversies goes a considerable distance toward establishing that judicial review was an early topic of controversy and thus not without precedent in American constitutional development. Useful for the discussions of early practice. . . . Very full notes, a limited bibliography, and an index of names round out the work. For well-informed students of American constitutionalism at upper-division undergraduate and graduate level.?-Choice