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Neoconservative Politics and the Supreme Court

Law, Power, and Democracy

Stephen M. Feldman

Publication Year: 2012

In this concise, timely book, constitutional law expert Stephen M. Feldman draws on neoconservative writings to explore the rise of the neocons and their influence on the Supreme Court. Neocons burst onto the political scene in the early 1980s via their assault on pluralist democracy’s ethical relativism, where no pre-existing or higher principles limit the agendas of interest groups. Instead, they advocated for a resurrection of republican democracy, which declares that virtuous citizens and officials pursue the common good. Yet despite their original goals, neocons quickly became an interest group themselves, competing successfully within the pluralist democratic arena. When the political winds shifted in 2008, however, neocons found themselves shorn of power in Congress and the executive branch. But portentously, they still controlled the Supreme Court.
Neoconservative Politics and the Supreme Court explains how and why the neoconservatives criticized but operated within pluralist democracy, and, most important, what the entrenchment of neocons on the Supreme Court means for present and future politics and law.

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-11

This book evolved from a planned article focusing on two questions. First, what is neoconservatism? The term neoconservativism has been used so loosely that its meaning has become obscure, yet its frequent use suggests an underlying importance. Thus, I wanted to go to its origins and understand...

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1. Reagan, Cross-Pollination, and Neoconservatism: An Introduction

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pp. 1-8

For more than twenty-five years, starting in 1980, neoconservatives stood at the intellectual forefront of a conservative coalition that reigned over the national government. Neocons earned this prominent position by leading an assault on the hegemonic pluralist democratic regime that had taken...

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2. From Republican to Pluralist Democracy

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pp. 9-22

From the framing through the 1920s, the United States operated as a republican democracy. Citizens and elected officials were supposed to be virtuous: In the political realm, they were to pursue the common good or public welfare rather than their own private interests. The 1776 Virginia Bill of...

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3. Pluralist Democracy: Dissent and Evolution

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pp. 23-46

Pluralist democracy achieved hegemony during the post–World War II era as the correct theory and practice of government. Yet pluralist democracy neither went unchallenged nor remained static. The first part of this chapter focuses on Leo Strauss, a leading opponent of pluralist democracy,...

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4. On Neoconservatism

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pp. 47-92

The typical neoconservative grew up in New York City in a “lower-middle-class or working-class” family. Many (though not all) were Jewish and attended City College of New York (CCNY), often because, at the time, other schools followed antisemitic admission policies. In the 1920s, numerous colleges...

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5. The Supreme Court and Neoconservatism

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pp. 93-150

In the 2008 election, the American people largely banished neoconservatives from the executive and legislative branches of the national government. Naturally, with periodic congressional and presidential elections, the ratio of conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats in positions of official power...

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6. The Supreme Court in the Future

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pp. 151-172

Most commentators would agree that five of the current Supreme Court justices are conservatives, but many of those same commentators would quarrel with my characterization of four of those justices—Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito—as neoconservatives. Yet, if neoconservatism, as I...


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pp. 173-205

Selected Bibliography of Books

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pp. 207-211

Selected Case Citations

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pp. 213-215


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pp. 217-225

About the Author

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pp. 226-237

E-ISBN-13: 9780814785898
E-ISBN-10: 0814764665
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814764664

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 820839194
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Neoconservative Politics and the Supreme Court

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Subject Headings

  • Political questions and judicial power -- United States.
  • United States. Supreme Court.
  • Conservatism -- United States.
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