A Matter of Interpretation Federal Courts and the Law

Author: Antonin Scalia
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400882953
Release Date: 2018-01-30
Genre: Law

We are all familiar with the image of the immensely clever judge who discerns the best rule of common law for the case at hand. According to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a judge like this can maneuver through earlier cases to achieve the desired aim—"distinguishing one prior case on his left, straight-arming another one on his right, high-stepping away from another precedent about to tackle him from the rear, until (bravo!) he reaches the goal—good law." But is this common-law mindset, which is appropriate in its place, suitable also in statutory and constitutional interpretation? In a witty and trenchant essay, Justice Scalia answers this question with a resounding negative. In exploring the neglected art of statutory interpretation, Scalia urges that judges resist the temptation to use legislative intention and legislative history. In his view, it is incompatible with democratic government to allow the meaning of a statute to be determined by what the judges think the lawgivers meant rather than by what the legislature actually promulgated. Eschewing the judicial lawmaking that is the essence of common law, judges should interpret statutes and regulations by focusing on the text itself. Scalia then extends this principle to constitutional law. He proposes that we abandon the notion of an everchanging Constitution and pay attention to the Constitution's original meaning. Although not subscribing to the “strict constructionism” that would prevent applying the Constitution to modern circumstances, Scalia emphatically rejects the idea that judges can properly “smuggle” in new rights or deny old rights by using the Due Process Clause, for instance. In fact, such judicial discretion might lead to the destruction of the Bill of Rights if a majority of the judges ever wished to reach that most undesirable of goals. This essay is followed by four commentaries by Professors Gordon Wood, Laurence Tribe, Mary Ann Glendon, and Ronald Dworkin, who engage Justice Scalia’s ideas about judicial interpretation from varying standpoints. In the spirit of debate, Justice Scalia responds to these critics. Featuring a new foreword that discusses Scalia’s impact, jurisprudence, and legacy, this witty and trenchant exchange illuminates the brilliance of one of the most influential legal minds of our time.

Foragers Farmers and Fossil Fuels

Author: Ian Morris
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400865512
Release Date: 2015-03-22
Genre: History

Most people in the world today think democracy and gender equality are good, and that violence and wealth inequality are bad. But most people who lived during the 10,000 years before the nineteenth century thought just the opposite. Drawing on archaeology, anthropology, biology, and history, Ian Morris explains why. Fundamental long-term changes in values, Morris argues, are driven by the most basic force of all: energy. Humans have found three main ways to get the energy they need—from foraging, farming, and fossil fuels. Each energy source sets strict limits on what kinds of societies can succeed, and each kind of society rewards specific values. But if our fossil-fuel world favors democratic, open societies, the ongoing revolution in energy capture means that our most cherished values are very likely to turn out not to be useful any more. Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels offers a compelling new argument about the evolution of human values, one that has far-reaching implications for how we understand the past—and for what might happen next. Originating as the Tanner Lectures delivered at Princeton University, the book includes challenging responses by classicist Richard Seaford, historian of China Jonathan Spence, philosopher Christine Korsgaard, and novelist Margaret Atwood.

The Lives of Animals

Author: J. M. Coetzee
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400883523
Release Date: 2016-09-20
Genre: Fiction

The idea of human cruelty to animals so consumes novelist Elizabeth Costello in her later years that she can no longer look another person in the eye: humans, especially meat-eating ones, seem to her to be conspirators in a crime of stupefying magnitude taking place on farms and in slaughterhouses, factories, and laboratories across the world. Costello's son, a physics professor, admires her literary achievements, but dreads his mother’s lecturing on animal rights at the college where he teaches. His colleagues resist her argument that human reason is overrated and that the inability to reason does not diminish the value of life; his wife denounces his mother’s vegetarianism as a form of moral superiority. At the dinner that follows her first lecture, the guests confront Costello with a range of sympathetic and skeptical reactions to issues of animal rights, touching on broad philosophical, anthropological, and religious perspectives. Painfully for her son, Elizabeth Costello seems offensive and flaky, but—dare he admit it?—strangely on target. In this landmark book, Nobel Prize–winning writer J. M. Coetzee uses fiction to present a powerfully moving discussion of animal rights in all their complexity. He draws us into Elizabeth Costello’s own sense of mortality, her compassion for animals, and her alienation from humans, even from her own family. In his fable, presented as a Tanner Lecture sponsored by the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University, Coetzee immerses us in a drama reflecting the real-life situation at hand: a writer delivering a lecture on an emotionally charged issue at a prestigious university. Literature, philosophy, performance, and deep human conviction—Coetzee brings all these elements into play. As in the story of Elizabeth Costello, the Tanner Lecture is followed by responses treating the reader to a variety of perspectives, delivered by leading thinkers in different fields. Coetzee’s text is accompanied by an introduction by political philosopher Amy Gutmann and responsive essays by religion scholar Wendy Doniger, primatologist Barbara Smuts, literary theorist Marjorie Garber, and moral philosopher Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation. Together the lecture-fable and the essays explore the palpable social consequences of uncompromising moral conflict and confrontation.

A Different Kind of Animal How Culture Transformed Our Species

Author: Robert Boyd
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400888528
Release Date: 2017-10-23
Genre: Science

How our ability to learn from each other has been the essential ingredient to our remarkable success as a species Human beings are a very different kind of animal. We have evolved to become the most dominant species on Earth. We have a larger geographical range and process more energy than any other creature alive. This astonishing transformation is usually explained in terms of cognitive ability—people are just smarter than all the rest. But in this compelling book, Robert Boyd argues that culture—our ability to learn from each other—has been the essential ingredient of our remarkable success. A Different Kind of Animal demonstrates that while people are smart, we are not nearly smart enough to have solved the vast array of problems that confronted our species as it spread across the globe. Over the past two million years, culture has evolved to enable human populations to accumulate superb local adaptations that no individual could ever have invented on their own. It has also made possible the evolution of social norms that allow humans to make common cause with large groups of unrelated individuals, a kind of society not seen anywhere else in nature. This unique combination of cultural adaptation and large-scale cooperation has transformed our species and assured our survival—making us the different kind of animal we are today. Based on the Tanner Lectures delivered at Princeton University, A Different Kind of Animal features challenging responses by biologist H. Allen Orr, philosopher Kim Sterelny, economist Paul Seabright, and evolutionary anthropologist Ruth Mace, as well as an introduction by Stephen Macedo.

The Decline and Fall of the American Republic

Author: Bruce Ackerman
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674058392
Release Date: 2011-02-01
Genre: History

Constitutional thought is currently dominated by heroic tales of the Founding Fathers — who built an Enlightenment machine that can tick-tock its way into the twenty-first century, with a little fine-tuning by the Supreme Court. However, according to Bruce Ackerman, the modern presidency is far more dangerous today than it was when Arthur Schlesinger published the Imperial Presidency in 1973. In this book, he explores how the interaction of changes in the party system, mass communications, the bureaucracy, and the military have made the modern presidency too powerful and a threat to liberal constitutionalism and democracy. Ackerman argues that the principles of constitutional legitimacy have been undermined by both political and legal factors. On the political level, by “government by emergency” and “government by public-opinion poll”; on the legal, by two rising institutions: The Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice and the Office of the Presidential Counsel in the White House. Both institutions came out of the New Deal, but have gained prominence only in the last generation. Lastly, Ackerman kicks off a reform debate that aims to adapt the Founding ideal of checks-and-balances to twenty-first century realities. His aim is not to propose definitive solutions but to provoke a national debate on American democracy in its time of trouble.

Constitutional Dilemmas

Author: Lorenzo Zucca
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
ISBN: 0199204977
Release Date: 2007
Genre: Political Science

Dealings with an important issue in philosophy of law and constitutional thought, this book addresses the problems of clashes between fundamental rights by developing a framework to adjudicate over clashes & then deal with the outcomes.

Democracy and Distrust

Author: John Hart Ely
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 0674196376
Release Date: 1980
Genre: Law

Until now legal experts have proposed two basic approaches to the Constitution. The first, "interpretivism," maintains that we should stick as closely as possible to what is explicit in the document itself. The second, predominant in recent academic theorizing, argues that the courts should be guided by what they see as the fundamental values of American society. Mr. Ely demonstrates that both of these approaches are inherently incomplete and inadequate. --from publisher description.

Law Pragmatism and Democracy

Author: Richard A. Posner
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 0674042298
Release Date: 2005-10-31
Genre: Law

Richard Posner argues for a conception of the liberal state based on pragmatic theories of government. He views the actions of elected officials as guided by interests rather than by reason and the decisions of judges by discretion rather than by rules. He emphasizes the institutional and material, rather than moral and deliberative, factors in democratic decision making. Posner argues that democracy is best viewed as a competition for power by means of regular elections. Citizens should not be expected to play a significant role in making complex public policy regarding, say, taxes or missile defense.

Law and Irresponsibility

Author: Scott Veitch
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 9781134107568
Release Date: 2007-11-14
Genre: Law

Law is widely assumed to provide contemporary society with its most important means of organizing responsibility. Across a broad range of areas of social life – from the activities of states and citizens, to work, business and private relationships – it is understood that legal regulation plays a crucial role in defining and limiting responsibilities. But Law and Irresponsibility pursues the opposite view: it explores how law organizes irresponsibility. With a particular focus on large-scale harms – including extensive human rights violations, forms of colonialism, and environmental or nuclear devastation – this book analyzes the ways in which law legitimates human suffering by demonstrating how legal institutions operate as much to deflect responsibility for harms suffered as to acknowledge them. Drawing on a series of case studies, it shows not only how law facilitates the dispersal and disavowal of responsibility, but how it does so in consistent and patterned ways. Irresponsibility is organized, and its organization is traced here to the legal forms, and the social and political conditions, that sustain ‘our’ complicity in human suffering. This innovative and interdisciplinary book provides a radical challenge to conventional thinking about law and legal institutions. It will be of considerable interest to those working in law, political and legal theory, sociology and moral philosophy.

Restoring the Lost Constitution

Author: Randy E. Barnett
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400848133
Release Date: 2013-11-24
Genre: Law

The U.S. Constitution found in school textbooks and under glass in Washington is not the one enforced today by the Supreme Court. In Restoring the Lost Constitution, Randy Barnett argues that since the nation's founding, but especially since the 1930s, the courts have been cutting holes in the original Constitution and its amendments to eliminate the parts that protect liberty from the power of government. From the Commerce Clause, to the Necessary and Proper Clause, to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, to the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court has rendered each of these provisions toothless. In the process, the written Constitution has been lost. Barnett establishes the original meaning of these lost clauses and offers a practical way to restore them to their central role in constraining government: adopting a "presumption of liberty" to give the benefit of the doubt to citizens when laws restrict their rightful exercises of liberty. He also provides a new, realistic and philosophically rigorous theory of constitutional legitimacy that justifies both interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning and, where that meaning is vague or open-ended, construing it so as to better protect the rights retained by the people. As clearly argued as it is insightful and provocative, Restoring the Lost Constitution forcefully disputes the conventional wisdom, posing a powerful challenge to which others must now respond. This updated edition features an afterword with further reflections on individual popular sovereignty, originalist interpretation, judicial engagement, and the gravitational force that original meaning has exerted on the Supreme Court in several recent cases.