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Nine Clashing Visions on the Supreme Court
In this provocative and insightful book, constitutional scholar and journalist Garrett Epps reviews the key decisions of the 2013-2014 Supreme Court term through the words of the nation's nine most powerful legal authorities. Epps succinctly outlines one opinion or dissent from each of the justices during the recent term, using it to illuminate the political and ideological views that prevail on the Court. The result is a highly readable summary of the term's most controversial cases as well as a probing investigation of the issues and personalities that shape the Court's decisions.
Accompanied by a concise overview of Supreme Court procedure and brief case summaries, American Justice 2014 is an engaging and instructive read for seasoned Court-watchers as well as legal novices eager for an introduction to the least-understood branch of government. This revealing portrait of a year in legal action dramatizes the ways that the Court has come to reflect and encourage the polarization that increasingly defines American politics.
The Worker, the Family, and the State
Since the fall of communism, laissez-faire capitalism has experienced renewed popularity. Flush with victory, the United States has embraced a particularly narrow and single-minded definition of capitalism and aggressively exported it worldwide. The defining trait of this brand of capitalism is an unwavering reverence for the icons of the market. Although promoted as a laissez-faire form of capitalism, it actually reflects the very evils of selfishness and greed by entrepreneurs that concerned Adam Smith.
Capitalism, however, can thrive without an extreme emphasis on efficiency and personal autonomy. Americans often forget that theirs is a rather peculiar form of capitalism, that other Western nations successfully maintain capitalistic systems that are fundamentally more balanced and nuanced in their effect on society. The unnecessarily inhumane aspects of American capitalism become apparent when compared to Canadian and Western European societies, with their more generous policies regarding affirmative action, accommodation for disabled persons, and family and medical leave for pregnant woman and their partners.
In American Law in the Age of Hypercapitalism, Ruth Colker examines how American law purports to reflect--and actively promotes--a laissez-faire capitalism that disproportionately benefits the entrepreneurial class. Colker proposes that the quality of American life depends also on fairness and equality rather than simply the single-minded and formulaic pursuit of efficiency and utility.
The Racial Boundaries of Citizenship
Americans Without Law shows how the racial boundaries of civic life are based on widespread perceptions about the relative capacity of minority groups for legal behavior, which Mark S. Weiner calls “juridical racialism.” The book follows the history of this civic discourse by examining the legal status of four minority groups in four successive historical periods: American Indians in the 1880s, Filipinos after the Spanish-American War, Japanese immigrants in the 1920s, and African Americans in the 1940s and 1950s.
Weiner reveals the significance of juridical racialism for each group and, in turn, Americans as a whole by examining the work of anthropological social scientists who developed distinctive ways of understanding racial and legal identity, and through decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court that put these ethno-legal views into practice. Combining history, anthropology, and legal analysis, the book argues that the story of juridical racialism shows how race and citizenship served as a nexus for the professionalization of the social sciences, the growth of national state power, economic modernization, and modern practices of the self.
Between Past and Present
“If I were asked to recommend a single book that puts the vexed and emotionally charged question of the death penalty into an intelligible historical and contemporary political perspective it would be this one. The introduction sets the stage beautifully and the essays that follow allow readers to come at the problem from a variety of mutually reinforcing perspectives. It is a model for intellectually rigorous scholarship on a morally exigent matter.”
The Culture of Capital Punishment
Thorough and unbiased, Among the Lowest of the Dead is a gripping narrative that provides an unprecedented journalistic look into the actual workings of the capital punishment system. "Has all the tension of the best true crime stories . . . This is journalism at its best." --Library Journal "A compelling argument against capital punishment. . . . Examining politicians, judges (including Supreme Court Justices), prosecutors, defense attorneys and the condemned themselves, the author makes an effective case that, despite new laws, execution is no less a lottery than it has always been." --Publishers Weekly "In a fine and important book, Von Drehle writes elegantly and powerfully. . . . Anyone certain of their opinion about the death penalty ought to read this book." -- Booklist "An extremely well-informed and richly insightful book of great value to students of the death penalty as well as intelligent general readers with a serious interest in the subject, Among the Lowest of the Dead is also exciting reading. The book is an ideal guide for new generations of readers who want to form knowledgeable judgments in the continuing--and recently accelerating--controversies about capital punishment." --Anthony Amsterdam, New York University "Among the Lowest of the Dead is a powerfully written and meticulously researched book that makes an invaluable contribution to the growing public dialogue about capital punishment in America. It's one of those rare books that bridges the gap between mass audiences and scholarly disciplines, the latter including sociology, political science, criminology and journalism. The book is required reading in my Investigative Journalism classes--and my students love it!" --David Protess, Northwestern University "Among The Lowest of the Dead deserves a permanent place in the literature as literature, and is most relevant to today's death penalty debate as we moderate advocates and abolitionists search for common ground." --Robert Blecker, New York Law School David Von Drehle is Senior Writer, The Washington Post and author of Triangle: The Fire that Changed America.
Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson
Stickups and Street Culture
One of the most feared crimes among urban dwellers, armed robbery poses a serious risk of injury or death, and presents daunting challenges for law enforcement. Yet little is known about the complex factors that motivate assailants who use a weapon to take property by force or threat of force.
Armed Robbers in Action is not like previous studies that focus on the often distorted accounts of incarcerated offenders. Richard T. Wright and Scott H. Decker conducted dangerous, life-threatening field research on the streets of St. Louis to obtain more forthright responses from robbers about their motives and methods. They also visited several crime scenes to examine how situational and spatial features of the setting contributed to the offense. Quoting extensively from their conversations with the offenders, the authors consider the circumstances underlying the decision to commit an armed robbery, explore how and why targets are chosen, and detail the various tactics used in a hold-up.
By analyzing the criminals' candid perspectives on their actions and their social environment, the authors provide a fuller understanding of armed robbery. They conclude with an insightful discussion of the implications of their findings for crime prevention policy.
The Battle for Death with Dignity in America
Over the past hundred years, average life expectancy in America has nearly doubled, due largely to scientific and medical advances, but also as a consequence of safer working conditions, a heightened awareness of the importance of diet and health, and other factors. Yet while longevity is celebrated as an achievement in modern civilization, the longer people live, the more likely they are to succumb to chronic, terminal illnesses. In 1900, the average life expectancy was 47 years, with a majority of American deaths attributed to influenza, tuberculosis, pneumonia, or other diseases. In 2000, the average life expectancy was nearly 80 years, and for too many people, these long lifespans included cancer, heart failure, Lou Gehrig’s disease, AIDS, or other fatal illnesses, and with them, came debilitating pain and the loss of a once-full and often independent lifestyle. In this compelling and provocative book, noted legal scholar Howard Ball poses the pressing question: is it appropriate, legally and ethically, for a competent individual to have the liberty to decide how and when to die when faced with a terminal illness?
At Liberty to Die charts how, the right of a competent, terminally ill person to die on his or her own terms with the help of a doctor has come deeply embroiled in debates about the relationship between religion, civil liberties, politics, and law in American life. Exploring both the legal rulings and the media frenzies that accompanied the Terry Schiavo case and others like it, Howard Ball contends that despite raging battles in all the states where right to die legislation has been proposed, the opposition to the right to die is intractable in its stance. Combining constitutional analysis, legal history, and current events, Ball surveys the constitutional arguments that have driven the right to die debate.
The Accommodation of Conflicting Rights
Demands for "autonomy" or minority rights have given rise to conflicts, often violent, in every region of the world and under every political system. Through an analysis of contemporary international legal norms and an examination of several specific case studies—including Hong Kong, India, the transnational problems of the Kurds and Saamis, Nicaragua, Northern Ireland, Spain, Sri Lanka, and the Sudan—this book identifies a framework in which ethnic, religious, and regional conflicts can be addressed.
Reinterpreting Disability Rights
For civil rights lawyers who toiled through the 1980s in the increasingly barren fields of race and sex discrimination law, the approval of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 by a nearly unanimous U.S. House and Senate and a Republican President seemed almost fantastic. Within five years of the Act's effective date, however, observers were warning of an unfolding assault on the ADA by federal judges, the media, and other national opinion-makers. A year after the Supreme Court issued a trio of decisions in the summer of 1999 sharply limiting the ADA's reach, another decision invalidated an entire title of the act as it applied to the states. By this time, disability activists and disability rights lawyers were speaking openly of a backlash against the ADA. What happened, why did it happen, and what can we learn from the patterns of public, media, and judicial response to the ADA that emerged in the 1990s? In this book, a distinguished group of disability activists, disability rights lawyers, social scientists and humanities scholars grapple with these questions. Taken together, these essays construct and illustrate a new and powerful theoretical model of sociolegal change and retrenchment that can inform both the conceptual and theoretical work of scholars and the day-to-day practice of social justice activists. Contributors include Lennard J. Davis, Matthew Diller, Harlan Hahn, Linda Hamilton Krieger, Vicki A. Laden, Stephen L. Percy, Marta Russell, and Gregory Schwartz. Backlash Against the ADA will interest disability rights activists, lawyers, law students and legal scholars interested in social justice and social change movements, and students and scholars in disability studies, political science, media studies, American studies, social movement theory, and legal history. Linda Hamilton Krieger is Professor of Law, University of California School of Law, Berkeley.