Ideological shifts on the U.S. Supreme Court often lead to reexaminations of its role in American politics. Into the coming torrent of motivated reasoning on how the court should act steps this book: a timely, nonpartisan critique of the Supreme Court’s supremacy over constitutional meaning.
Greg Weiner has two primary aims in The Political Constitution. First, he would rehabilitate politics as a noble pursuit, central to human flourishing. He grounds this vision in a Burkean milieu that he calls “the politics of obligation,” where a community governs itself with an eye toward tradition and custom as well as future generations. Second, he contends that judicial supremacy has crippled our capacity for self-government. In essence, Weiner rejects judicial supremacy—what he labels “judicial engagement” (p. 11)—in favor of departmentalism, where authoritative constitutional meaning is instead developed over time in iterative conflicts and compromises between institutions. While Weiner’s argument could be directed toward any advocate of judicial supremacy, he primarily critiques libertarian legal theorists, such as Randy Barnett or Richard Epstein, who view the Supreme Court as a bulwark against majority rule.
The book’s chapters present self-contained but interrelated arguments that advance th
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