The Least Dangerous Branch?: Consequences Of Judicial Activism

Paperback | November 30, 2002

byStephen Powers

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Is the American judiciary still the "least dangerous branch," as Alexander Hamilton and legal scholar Alexander Bickel characterized it? Unlike legislatures or administrative agencies, courts do not make policy so much as direct and redirect policy as it is implemented. The judicial contribution to policymaking involves the infusion of constitutional rights into the realm of public policy, and as the government has grown, the courts have become more powerful from doing more and more of this. Powers and Rothman explore the impact of the federal courts, providing a brief account of the development of constitutional law and an overview of the judiciary's impact in six controversial areas of public policy. BLBusing BLAffirmative action BLPrison reform BLMental health reform BLProcedural reforms in law enforcement BLElectoral redistricting In each of these areas, the authors review significant cases that bear on the particular policy, exploring the social science evidence to assess the impact of the courts on policies-and the consequences of that intervention. Powers and Rothman conclude that judicial intervention in public policy has often brought about undesirable consequences, sometimes even for the intended beneficiaries of government intervention.

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From the Publisher

Is the American judiciary still the "least dangerous branch," as Alexander Hamilton and legal scholar Alexander Bickel characterized it? Unlike legislatures or administrative agencies, courts do not make policy so much as direct and redirect policy as it is implemented. The judicial contribution to policymaking involves the infusion of...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:232 pages, 9.4 × 6.16 × 0.69 inPublished:November 30, 2002Publisher:Praeger PublishersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0275975371

ISBN - 13:9780275975371

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"This book is a comprehensive and penetrating analysis of judicial intervention into policy arenas normally reserved for legislatures. Its scope is unusually broad, covering judicial activism in school desegregation, affirmative action, voting, mental health, and prison reform. While sometimes critical of judicial excesses, the discussion is balanced by acknowledging the necessity of court action after legislative default, especially in the civil rights area. The writing avoids legal terms and technicalities, producing a very approachable and useful text for all students of social policy and constitutional law."-David J. Armor Professor of Public Policy School of Public Policy George Mason University