The Democratic Constitution by Neal Devins

By Neal Devins

During this attention-grabbing debunking of judicial supremacy, Devins and Fisher argue that nonjudicial contributions to constitutional interpretation make the structure extra sturdy, extra in step with constitutional rules, and extra protecting of person and minority rights. This hugely readable narrative of ways the courtroom and elected officers paintings in live performance with the yankee humans to form constitutional values is a magnificent confirmation of public participation within the political strategy.

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For example, after successfully lobbying the Oregon legislature to limit a woman’s workday to ten hours, National Consumer League general counsel (and later Supreme Court Justice) Louis Brandeis set about defending the law in court. 35 The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), created in 1909, set up a Legal Defense and Educational Fund in the 1930s to make litigation a more systematic tool for gaining important new rights for the black community. Starting in 1935, the Legal Defense Fund launched a calculated assault against segregation.

Congress passed the Neutrality Act the next year, giving the administration the firm legal footing it needed to prosecute violators. In the early years of the American republic, judges found it difficult to dictate the law to skeptical frontier jurors. ”58 During the nineteenth century, jurors objected to legislation that mandated the death penalty not only for murder but for treason, piracy, arson, rape, robbery, burglary, and sodomy. Without the opportunity to vote for a lesser penalty, many jurors voted to acquit.

Supreme Court. Lockwood’s experience shows that the courts are hardly the last word on constitutional law, nor are they reliable guardians of individual and minority rights. ”33 At the turn of the twentieth century, the National Consumers’ League channeled its resources to win important protections for factory workers, both legislatively and through the courts. For example, after successfully lobbying the Oregon legislature to limit a woman’s workday to ten hours, National Consumer League general counsel (and later Supreme Court Justice) Louis Brandeis set about defending the law in court.

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