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Boilerplate

The Fine Print, Vanishing Rights, and the Rule of Law

Margaret Jane Radin

Boilerplate--the fine-print terms and conditions that we become subject to when we click "I agree" online, rent an apartment, enter an employment contract, sign up for a cellphone carrier, or buy travel tickets--pervades all aspects of our modern lives. On a daily basis, most of us accept boilerplate provisions without realizing that should a dispute arise about a purchased good or service, the nonnegotiable boilerplate terms can deprive us of our right to jury trial and relieve providers of responsibility for harm. Boilerplate is the first comprehensive treatment of the problems posed by the increasing use of these terms, demonstrating how their use has degraded traditional notions of consent, agreement, and contract, and sacrificed core rights whose loss threatens the democratic order.

Margaret Jane Radin examines attempts to justify the use of boilerplate provisions by claiming either that recipients freely consent to them or that economic efficiency demands them, and she finds these justifications wanting. She argues, moreover, that our courts, legislatures, and regulatory agencies have fallen short in their evaluation and oversight of the use of boilerplate clauses. To improve legal evaluation of boilerplate, Radin offers a new analytical framework, one that takes into account the nature of the rights affected, the quality of the recipient's consent, and the extent of the use of these terms. Radin goes on to offer possibilities for new methods of boilerplate evaluation and control, among them the bold suggestion that tort law rather than contract law provides a preferable analysis for some boilerplate schemes. She concludes by discussing positive steps that NGOs, legislators, regulators, courts, and scholars could take to bring about better practices.

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Borrowing Constitutional Designs

Constitutional Law in Weimar Germany and the French Fifth Republic

Cindy Skach

After the collapse of communism, some thirty countries scrambled to craft democratic constitutions. Surprisingly, the constitutional model they most often chose was neither the pure parliamentary model found in most of Western Europe at the time, nor the presidential model of the Americas. Rather, it was semi-presidentialism--a rare model known more generally as the "French type." This constitutional model melded elements of pure presidentialism with those of pure parliamentarism. Specifically, semi-presidentialism combined a popularly elected head of state with a head of government responsible to a legislature.

Borrowing Constitutional Designs questions the hasty adoption of semi-presidentialism by new democracies. Drawing on rich case studies of two of the most important countries for European politics in the twentieth century--Weimar Germany and the French Fifth Republic--Cindy Skach offers the first theoretically focused, and historically grounded, analysis of semi-presidentialism and democracy. She demonstrates that constitutional choice matters, because under certain conditions, semi-presidentialism structures incentives that make democratic consolidation difficult or that actually contribute to democratic collapse. She offers a new theory of constitutional design, integrating insights from law and the social sciences. In doing so, Skach challenges both democratic theory and democratic practice. This book will be welcomed not only by scholars and practitioners of constitutional law but also by those in fields such as comparative politics, European politics and history, and international and public affairs.

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Bound by Our Constitution

Women, Workers, and the Minimum Wage

Vivien Hart

What difference does a written constitution make to public policy? How have women workers fared in a nation bound by constitutional principles, compared with those not covered by formal, written guarantees of fair procedure or equitable outcome? To investigate these questions, Vivien Hart traces the evolution of minimum wage policies in the United States and Britain from their common origins in women's politics around 1900 to their divergent outcomes in our day. She argues, contrary to common wisdom, that the advantage has been with the American constitutional system rather than the British.

Basing her analysis on primary research, Hart reconstructs legal strategies and policy decisions that revolved around the recognition of women as workers and the public definition of gender roles. Contrasting seismic shifts and expansion in American minimum wage policy with indifference and eventual abolition in Britain, she challenges preconceptions about the constraints of American constitutionalism versus British flexibility. Though constitutional requirements did block and frustrate women's attempts to gain fair wages, they also, as Hart demonstrates, created a terrain in the United States for principled debate about women, work, and the state--and a momentum for public policy--unparalleled in Britain. Hart's book should be of interest to policy, labor, women's, and legal historians, to political scientists, and to students of gender issues, law, and social policy.

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Brandishing the First Amendment

Commercial Expression in America

Tamara R. Piety

Over the past two decades, corporations and other commercial entities have used strategic litigation to win more expansive First Amendment protections for commercial speech—from the regulation of advertising to the role corporate interests play in the political process, most recently debated in the Supreme Court case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Tamara R. Piety, a nationally known critic of commercial and corporate speech, argues that such an expansion of First Amendment speech rights imperils public health, safety, and welfare; the reliability of commercial and consumer information; the stability of financial markets; and the global environment. Beginning with an evaluation of commonly evoked philosophical justifications for freedom of expression, Piety determines that, while these are appropriate for the protection of an individual’s rights, they should not be applied too literally to commercial expression because the corporate person is not the moral equivalent of the human person. She then gathers evidence from public relations and marketing, behavioral economics, psychology, and cognitive studies to show how overly permissive extensions of First Amendment protections to commercial expression limit governmental power to address some of the major social, economic, and environmental challenges of our time. “The timeliness of the topic and the provision of original positions are sure to make the book a valuable contribution that should draw much attention.” —Kevin W. Saunders, Michigan State University

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Breaking the Cycles of Hatred

Memory, Law, and Repair

Martha Minow

Violence so often begets violence. Victims respond with revenge only to inspire seemingly endless cycles of retaliation. Conflicts between nations, between ethnic groups, between strangers, and between family members differ in so many ways and yet often share this dynamic. In this powerful and timely book Martha Minow and others ask: What explains these cycles and what can break them? What lessons can we draw from one form of violence that might be relevant to other forms? Can legal responses to violence provide accountability but avoid escalating vengeance? If so, what kinds of legal institutions and practices can make a difference? What kinds risk failure?

Breaking the Cycles of Hatred represents a unique blend of political and legal theory, one that focuses on the double-edged role of memory in fueling cycles of hatred and maintaining justice and personal integrity. Its centerpiece comprises three penetrating essays by Minow. She argues that innovative legal institutions and practices, such as truth commissions and civil damage actions against groups that sponsor hate, often work better than more conventional criminal proceedings and sanctions. Minow also calls for more sustained attention to the underlying dynamics of violence, the connections between intergroup and intrafamily violence, and the wide range of possible responses to violence beyond criminalization.

A vibrant set of freestanding responses from experts in political theory, psychology, history, and law examines past and potential avenues for breaking cycles of violence and for deepening our capacity to avoid becoming what we hate. The topics include hate crimes and hate-crimes legislation, child sexual abuse and the statute of limitations, and the American kidnapping and internment of Japanese Latin Americans during World War II. Commissioned by Nancy Rosenblum, the essays are by Ross E. Cheit, Marc Galanter, Fredrick C. Harris, Judith Lewis Herman, Carey Jaros, Frederick M. Lawrence, Austin Sarat, Ayelet Shachar, Eric K. Yamamoto, and Iris Marion Young.

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Breaking the Devil’s Pact

The Battle to Destroy the Mob’s Control over the Teamsters

James Jacobs, Kerry Cooperman, 0

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Brennan and Democracy

Frank I. Michelman

In Brennan and Democracy, a leading thinker in U.S. constitutional law offers some powerful reflections on the idea of "constitutional democracy," a concept in which many have seen the makings of paradox. Here Frank Michelman explores the apparently conflicting commitments of a democratic governmental system where key aspects of such important social issues as affirmative action, campaign finance reform, and abortion rights are settled not by a legislative vote but by the decisions of unelected judges. Can we--or should we--embrace the values of democracy together with constitutionalism, judicial supervision, and the rule of law? To answer this question, Michelman calls into service the judicial career of Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, the country's model "activist" judge for the past forty years. Michelman draws on Brennan's record and writings to suggest how the Justice himself might have understood the judiciary's role in the simultaneous promotion of both democratic and constitutional government.

The first chapter prompts us to reflect on how tough and delicate an act it is for the members of a society to attempt living together as a people devoted to self-government. The second chapter seeks to renew our appreciation for democratic liberal political ideals, and includes an extensive treatment of Brennan's judicial opinions, which places them in relation to opposing communitarian and libertarian positions. Michelman also draws on the views of two other prominent constitutional theorists, Robert Post and Ronald Dworkin, to build a provocative discussion of whether democracy is best conceived as a "procedural" or a "substantive" ideal.

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Britain Confronts the Stalin Revolution

Anglo-Soviet Relations and the Metro-Vickers Crisis

“Russian politics, like opium, seems infallibly to provoke the most fantastic dreams and imaginings on the part of the people who study them.” — E.A. Walker, British Embassy, Moscow 1931

In March 1933 the economic section of the Soviet secret police arrested six British engineers employed by the Metropolitan Vickers Electrical Company. The arrests provoked a confrontation that brought Anglo-Soviet relations to the brink of disaster and resurrected the spectre of the show trials and purges of the technical intelligentsia that had shaken Soviet society from 1928 to 1931.

Britain Confronts the Stalin Revolution is the first full-length study of the Metro-Vickers’ show trial of 1933. Based upon some new and many underutilized Soviet and British sources, Gordon Morrell examines the political, economic, social, legal and cultural dimensions of the only Stalinist political trial of the 1930s that directly engaged a foreign power.

Morrell explores the roots of the crisis by analyzing Metro-Vickers’ role in the electrification of the USSR and he examines the political, economic and diplomatic relations between Britain and the Soviets that gave the crisis its international importance. He focusses on the efforts of the British Government to understand and respond to the new Stalinist order and, importantly, casts new light on the apparent role of the British Industrial Intelligence Centre during the early 1930s.

Britain Confronts the Stalin Revolution is an accessible, original and multidimensional work that makes an important contribution to the study of Anglo-Soviet relations.

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Broke, Not Broken

Homer Maxey's Texas Bank War

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Building the Judiciary

Law, Courts, and the Politics of Institutional Development

Justin Crowe

How did the federal judiciary transcend early limitations to become a powerful institution of American governance? How did the Supreme Court move from political irrelevance to political centrality? Building the Judiciary uncovers the causes and consequences of judicial institution-building in the United States from the commencement of the new government in 1789 through the close of the twentieth century. Explaining why and how the federal judiciary became an independent, autonomous, and powerful political institution, Justin Crowe moves away from the notion that the judiciary is exceptional in the scheme of American politics, illustrating instead how it is subject to the same architectonic politics as other political institutions.

Arguing that judicial institution-building is fundamentally based on a series of contested questions regarding institutional design and delegation, Crowe develops a theory to explain why political actors seek to build the judiciary and the conditions under which they are successful. He both demonstrates how the motivations of institution-builders ranged from substantive policy to partisan and electoral politics to judicial performance, and details how reform was often provoked by substantial changes in the political universe or transformational entrepreneurship by political leaders. Embedding case studies of landmark institution-building episodes within a contextual understanding of each era under consideration, Crowe presents a historically rich narrative that offers analytically grounded explanations for why judicial institution-building was pursued, how it was accomplished, and what--in the broader scheme of American constitutional democracy--it achieved.

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