Connecticut State Library with state seal

Spotlight on ...the Law Collection at the CT State Library
Constitution, Courts, and Individual Liberties, row five


Constitutional Law for a Changing America: Institutional Powers and Constraints, by Lee Epstein and Thomas Walker (CQ Press, 2004)

KF4548 .E67 2004
In the authors' own words: "This book combines the lessons of the legal model with the influences of the political process. In most respects, our book follows tradition: readers will find, for example, that we include the classic cases that best illustrate the development of constitutional law. But our focus is different. We emphasize the arguments raised by lawyers and interest groups and the politics surrounding litigation, for example, and include tables and figures on Court trends, profiles of influential justices and organizations, and other materials that bring out the rich legal, social, and political contexts in which the Court reaches its decisions. We demonstrate that Supreme Court cases involve real people engaged in real disputes and are not merely legal names and citations. This fosters understanding of the law such as information on the Supreme Court decision-making process, the structure of the federal judiciary, and briefing court cases."

Keeping the People's Liberties: Legislators, Citizens, and Judges as Guardians of Rights, by John J. Dinan (University Press of Kansas, 1998)

KF4749 .D55 1998
"Which branch of government should be entrusted with safeguarding individual rights? Conventional wisdom assigns this responsibility to the courts, on the grounds that liberty can only be protected through judicial interpretation of bills of rights. In fact it is difficult for many people even to conceive of any other way that rights might be protected. The author challenges this understanding by tracing and evaluating the different methods that have been used to protect rights in the United States from the founding until the present era. By analyzing the relative ability of legislators, citizens, and judges to serve as guardians of rights, the author's study demonstrates that each is capable of securing certain rights in certain situations. Elected representatives are generally capable of protecting most rights, but popular initiatives provide an effective mechanism for securing rights in the face of legislative intransigence, and judicial decisions offer a superior means of protecting liberties in crisis times. Accordingly, rather than viewing rights protection as the peculiar province of any single institution, this task ought to be considered the proper responsibility of all these institutions."

Making Civil Rights Law: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court, 1936-1961, by Mark V. Tushnet (Oxford University Press, 1994)

KF4755 .T87 1994
"From the 1930s to the early 1960s civil rights law was made primarily through constitutional litigation. Before Rosa Parks could ignite a Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Supreme Court had to strike down the Alabama law which made segregated bus service required by law; before Martin Luther King could march on Selma to register voters, the Supreme Court had to find unconstitutional the Southern Democratic Party's exclusion of African-Americans; and before the March on Washington and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Supreme Court had to strike down the laws allowing for the segregation of public graduate schools, colleges, high schools, and grade schools. This book is an insightful and provocative narrative history of the legal struggle, led by Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which preceded the intense political battles for civil rights. Drawing on personal interviews with Thurgood Marshall and other NAACP lawyers, as well as new information about the private deliberations of the Supreme Court, the author tells the dramatic story of how the NAACP Legal Defense Fund led the Court to use the Constitution as an instrument of liberty and justice for all African-Americans. Through this story, the book provides a compelling portrait of the forces involved in civil rights litigation, bringing clarity to the legal reasoning that animated this `Constitutional revolution'".


The New Constitutional Order, by Mark Tushnet (Princeton University Press, 2003)

KF4550 .T87 2003
"In his 1996 State of the Union Address, President Bill Clinton announced that the `age of big government is over.' Some Republicans accused him of cynically appropriating their themes, while many Democrats thought that he was betraying the principles of the New Deal and the Great Society. The author argues that Clinton was stating an observed fact: the emergence of a new constitutional order in which the aspiration to achieve justice directly through law has been substantially chastened. The author also argues that the constitutional arrangements that prevailed in the United States from the 1930a to the 1990s have ended. We are now in a new constitutional order - one characterized by divided government, ideologically organized parties, and subdued constitutional ambition. Contrary to arguments that describe a threatened return to a pre-New Deal constitutional order, however, this book presents evidence that our current regime's animating principle is not the old belief that government cannot solve any problems but rather that government cannot solve any more problems."

Origins of the Bill of Rights, by Leonard Levy (Yale University Press, 1999)

KF4749 .L488 1999
"A fascinating history of the origins of the Bill of Rights. Unencumbered by a rigid class system, an arbitrary government, or a single established church squelching dissent, colonial Americans understood freedom in a far more comprehensive and liberal way than the English, Levy shows. He offers a panoramic view of the liberties secured by the first ten amendments to the Constitution - a penetrating analysis of the background of the Bill of Rights and of current legal understandings of each of its provisions. In colonial America, political theory, law, and religion all taught that government was limited. Yet the framing and ratification of the Bill of Rights - in effect a bill of restraints upon national government- was by no means assured. Levy illuminates the behind-the-scenes maneuverings, public rhetoric, and political motivations that led to each provision.