Anna Harvey's A Mere Machine: The Supreme Court, Congress, and American PDF

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By Anna Harvey

ISBN-10: 0300171110

ISBN-13: 9780300171112

Introductory textbooks on American govt let us know that the best courtroom is self sufficient from the elected branches and that self sufficient courts higher guard rights than their extra deferential opposite numbers. yet are those proof or myths?
 
In this groundbreaking new paintings, Anna Harvey studies facts displaying that the perfect court docket is actually terribly deferential to congressional personal tastes in its constitutional rulings. studying cross-national proof, Harvey additionally reveals that the rights protections we take pleasure in within the usa seem to be principally due to the fact we don't have an autonomous perfect court docket. in truth, we might most probably have even better protections for political and financial rights have been we to ban our federal courts from exercise judicial evaluation altogether. Harvey’s findings recommend that constitutional designers will be clever to heed Thomas Jefferson’s suggestion to “let mercy be the nature of the law-giver, yet allow the pass judgement on be a trifling machine.”

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Additional resources for A Mere Machine: The Supreme Court, Congress, and American Democracy

Sample text

In both case-based and time-series analyses there is no evidence that any of the findings reported in Chapter Five are simply the spurious results of more fundamental associations between the Court’s judgments and public opinion, unemployment, inflation, the homicide rate, federal military spending, or the overall liberalism of federal public policy. In fact, none of these alternative causal factors have any consistent association with the Court’s rulings in cases involving constitutional challenges to federal statutes, regardless of the specification used.

We may end up underestimating this effect, perhaps even concluding that no such effect exists, simply because we have too few relevant cases in our sample from terms wherein the Court faced hostile House majorities. Using a known population of potential cases, however, we can attempt to address this problem of selection bias in the Court’s docket. 57 This analysis consists first of estimating the probability that constitutional challenges to liberal landmark statutes enacted between 1987 and 1994 make it onto the Rehnquist Court’s docket in each term, as a function of both judicial and elected branch preferences, controlling for statute age.

These possible alternative explanations are hard to square with the specificity of the Court’s deference. The justices appear to defer only to the preferences of majorities in the House of Representatives, not to those of Senate majorities or the president. This is the case even though, over the period examined here, the estimated preferences of both Senate majorities and the president are more closely linked to public opinion 17 18 SUPREME COURT, CONGRESS, AND AMERICAN DEMOCRACY (and thereby also to the factors that drive public opinion) than are those of House majorities.

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A Mere Machine: The Supreme Court, Congress, and American Democracy by Anna Harvey


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