Reviewing the processes taken by all forty-four presidents to form new legal precedents and the constitutional conventions that have developed as a result, Harold H. Bruff shows that the president is both more and less powerful than many suppose. He explores how presidents have been guided by both their predecessors' and their own interpretations of constitutional text, as well as how they implement policies in ways that statutes do not clearly authorize or forbid. But while executive power has expanded far beyond its original conception, Bruff argues that the modern presidency is appropriately limited by the national political process--their actions are legitimized by the assent of Congress and the American people or rejected through debilitating public outcry, judicial invalidation, reactive legislation, or impeachment. Synthesizing over two hundred years of presidential activity and conflict, this timely book casts new light on executive behavior and the American constitutional system.
Labor and Employment
Nancy Woloch considers the network of institutions that promoted women-only protective laws, such as the National Consumers' League and the federal Women's Bureau; the global context in which the laws arose; the challenges that proponents faced; the rationales they espoused; the opposition that evolved; the impact of protective laws in ever-changing circumstances; and their dismantling in the wake of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Above all, Woloch examines the constitutional conversation that the laws provoked--the debates that arose in the courts and in the women's movement. Protective laws set precedents that led to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and to current labor law; they also sustained a tradition of gendered law that abridged citizenship and impeded equality for much of the century.
Drawing on decades of scholarship, institutional and legal records, and personal accounts, A Class by Herself sets forth a new narrative about the tensions inherent in women-only protective labor laws and their consequences.
Land Use Planning
In this detailed study of one of the most controversial Supreme Court cases in modern times, Ilya Somin argues that Kelo was a grave error. Economic development and "blight" condemnations are unconstitutional under both originalist and most "living constitution" theories of legal interpretation. They also victimize the poor and the politically weak for the benefit of powerful interest groups and often destroy more economic value than they create. Kelo itself exemplifies these patterns. The residents targeted for condemnation lacked the influence needed to combat the formidable government and corporate interests arrayed against them. Moreover, the city's poorly conceived development plan ultimately failed: the condemned land lies empty to this day, occupied only by feral cats. The Supreme Court's unpopular ruling triggered an unprecedented political reaction, with forty-five states passing new laws intended to limit the use of eminent domain. But many of the new laws impose few or no genuine constraints on takings. The Kelo backlash led to significant progress, but not nearly as much as it may have seemed.
Despite its outcome, the closely divided 5-4 ruling shattered what many believed to be a consensus that virtually any condemnation qualifies as a public use under the Fifth Amendment. It also showed that there is widespread public opposition to eminent domain abuse. With controversy over takings sure to continue, The Grasping Hand offers the first book-length analysis of Kelo by a legal scholar, alongside a broader history of the dispute over public use and eminent domain and an evaluation of options for reform.
Law and Society
Brandon Bartels and Chris Bonneau argue that being attuned to the normative implications of one's work enhances the quality of empirical work, not to mention makes it substantially more interesting to both academics and non-academic practitioners. Their book's mission is to examine how the normative implications of empirical work in law and courts can be more visible and relevant to audiences beyond academia. Written by scholars of political science, law, and sociology, the chapters in the volume offer ideas on a methodology for communicating normative implications in a balanced, nuanced, and modest manner. The contributors argue that if empirical work is strongly suggestive of certain policy or institutional changes, scholars should make those implications known so that information can be diffused. The volume consists of four sections that respectively address the general enterprise of developing normative implications of empirical research, law and decisionmaking, judicial selection, and courts in the broader political and societal context.
This volume represents the start of a conversation on the topic of how the normative implications of empirical research in law and courts can be made more visible. This book will primarily interest scholars of law and courts, as well as students of judicial politics. Other subfields of political science engaging in empirical research will also find the suggestions made in the book relevant.
What is it about these cases that captures the public imagination? Are the "headline trials" of our period different from those of a century or two ago? And what do we learn from them, about the nature of our society, past and present? To get a clearer picture, Friedman first identifies what certain headline trials have in common, then considers particular cases within each grouping. The political trial, for instance, embraces treason and spying, dissenters and radicals, and, to varying degrees, corruption and fraud. Celebrity trials involve the famous—whether victims, as in the case of Charles Manson, or defendants as disparate as Fatty Arbuckle and William Kennedy Smith; but certain high-profile cases, such as those Friedman categorizes as tabloid trials, can also create celebrities. The fascination of whodunit trials can be found in the mystery surrounding the case: Are we sure about O. J. Simpson? What about Claus von Bulow, tried in another sensational case for sending his wife into a coma.? An especially interesting type of case Friedman groups under the rubric worm in the bud. These are cases, such as that of Lizzie Borden, that seem to put society itself on trial; they raise fundamental social questions and often suggest hidden and secret pathologies. And finally, a small but important group of cases proceed from moral panic, the Salem witchcraft trials being the classic instance, though Friedman also considers recent examples.
Though they might differ in significant ways, these types of trials also have important similarities. Most notably, they invariably raise questions about identity (Who is this defendant? A villain? An innocent unfairly accused?). And in this respect, The Big Trial shows us, the headline trial reflects a critical aspect of modern society. Reaching across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to the latest outrage, from congressional hearings to lynching and vigilante justice to public punishment, from Dr. Sam Sheppard (the "fugitive") to Jeffrey Dahmer (the "cannibal"), The Rosenbergs to Timothy McVeigh, the book presents a complex picture of headline trials as displays of power; moments of "didactic theater" that demonstrate in one way or another whether a society is fair, whom it protects, and whose interest it serves.