By Anna Harvey

Introductory textbooks on American govt let us know that the perfect court docket is autonomous from the elected branches and that autonomous courts greater defend 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 excellent courtroom is in reality terribly deferential to congressional personal tastes in its constitutional rulings. studying cross-national proof, Harvey additionally unearths that the rights protections we get pleasure from within the usa seem to be mostly on the grounds that we don't have an self sufficient superb courtroom. in reality, we might most likely have even better protections for political and monetary rights have been we to ban our federal courts from exercise judicial evaluate 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 enable the pass judgement on be an insignificant machine.”

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

Sample text

While it may still be the case that our measurements of these alternative factors are flawed, or that there remain some unidentified factors that are “really” driving the apparent association between the preferences of House majorities and the Court’s judgments, the currently available data do not support any of the plausible alternative explanations. The findings of judicial deference reported in Chapters Five and Six are enabled by the use of objective measures of the Court’s judgments, measures free from possible contamination by expectations of the Court’s independence.

But again, no direct evidence of such deference will be reported here. Finally, the period analyzed here is limited to the modern Supreme Court between its 1953 and 2004 terms. This period includes the entire Warren, Burger, and Rehnquist Courts, with a partial analysis of the early Roberts Court. Many consequential jurisprudential developments occurred over this fi fty-year span. Still, we may wonder whether the justices’ apparent deference to elected branch preferences over this period generalizes to earlier Courts.

76 SUPREME COURT, CONGRESS, AND AMERICAN DEMOCRACY But we know that not all legislators and executives face equally compelling incentives to predate individual rights; empirical evidence indicates that more majoritarian legislators and executives are in fact significantly more protective of rights than their less majoritarian counterparts. And by the very logic of the argument for more independent courts, we might expect the effects of these courts to vary as a function of a country’s policymaking institutions.

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