A Supreme Court Reading List

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University presses like Chicago are howis committed to making available works that not only keep us informed, but also help us better understand our world, our government and our laws. We’ve put together a reading list of books from Chicago that help shed light on different aspects of the United States Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court, Sixth Edition

Robert G. McCloskey and Sanford Levinson

“The classic account of the American Supreme Court by the most astute student of mid-twentieth century American constitutionalism, updated by the most astute student of early twenty-first century American constitutionalism.” This is the first job that newcomers to constitutions (and constitutional scholars) should turn to. – Mark Graber, University of Maryland School of Law

Church State Corporation: interpretation of religion in American law

Winnifred Faller Sullivan

“In this polemic but learned tour de forceSullivan questions the decisions of the United States Supreme Court in recent major religious freedom cases on theological and legal grounds. –American History Journal

Constitutional conscience: the moral dimension of the judicial decision

H.Jefferson Powell

“A scholarly and thought-provoking work, rich in insight. It makes innovative use of history, philosophy, law and political science. . . . [Powell’s] the identification and elaboration of interpretative virtues is an original and important contribution that will have significance for jurisprudence and constitutional law far beyond the United States.book review on law and politics

Constructing Fundamental Freedoms: A Defense of Substantive Due Process

James E. Fleming

“In Building fundamental freedoms, James Fleming offers a powerful and persuasive defense of the Supreme Court’s much maligned practice of recognizing unenumerated rights under the umbrella of “substantive due process.” Cases recognizing rights such as contraception, abortion and same-sex marriage do not, as conservatives claim, herald the end of morality-based legislation, nor do they merely substitute judicial values ​​for popular. Responding to progressives who would relocate rights into equal protection, Fleming also explains how equality should complement rather than supplant freedom. Even if the Trump-riddled high court overturns Roe v. Wade, the protection of an area of ​​what Fleming aptly calls “personal autonomy” will likely and certainly should remain an enduring feature of American constitutionalism. —Michael C. Dorf, Cornell Law School

The Democratic Constitution: experimentation and interpretation

Brian E. Butler

“The dominant paradigms of political and legal theory have failed to identify the best relationship between constitution in theory and democracy in practice, which is evident in the way judicial supremacy over constitutional interpretation is almost undisputed. Butler approaches this difficult philosophical question with his own systematic legal experimentalism, guiding readers through dozens of Supreme Court cases over two centuries to show where dominant paradigms need to be supplemented or replaced. The book will be a lightning rod for rival theories, but even scholars attached to competing paradigms will appreciate the care with which Butler reaches his conclusions. —John Shook, University at Buffalo, SUNY

The Hollow Hope: Can courts bring about social change? second edition, second edition

Gerald N. Rosenberg

“Rosenberg argues with considerable subtlety and power and considerable persuasiveness that the promise of Supreme Court action has been chimerical. In his view, the judges are, at best, the Rosencrantzes and Guildensterns of America’s greatest social drama, and the lawyers arguing their cases have mostly wasted their acting skills. –David L. Kirp, Nation

Legal politics in polarized times

Thomas M. Keck

“Based on an extensive survey of abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, and gun rights litigation throughout the Clinton, Bush, and Obama eras, Keck argues that despite claims by judges, actual judicial decisions are not the politically neutral products of disembodied legal texts. But neither are judges “tyrants in robes”, undermining democratic values ​​by imposing their own preferences. Keck, judges do not react simply as arbitrators, activists or political actors, but in the light of distinct judicial values ​​and practices.Law and social inquiry

The Most Militant Supreme Court in History: The Path to Modern Judicial Conservatism

Thomas M. Keck

“[Keck] puts the decisions of the Supreme Court in a broad historical perspective and shows how the recent conservative activism of the Rehnquist Court is part of an unbroken tradition of activism. . . . If you only read one book on the history of the modern Supreme Court, this should probably be the one.Choice

Sincerely Held: American Secularism and Its Believers

Charles McCrary

“Mccrary casts this complex subject in a new light. Readers will gain valuable insight into the politics of religion in America.Weekly editors

The State as a Work of Art: The Cultural Origins of the Constitution

Eric Slauter

“[A] imaginative book. . . . Slauter’s book is the first large-scale effort by a literary scholar to apply the special tools of his discipline to the Constitution and its cultural origins. “-Gordon S. Wood, The New Republic


All these books are available in our website or your favorite Bookseller.

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