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New Books on U.S. Government
'To Save the People from Themselves': The Emergence of American Judicial Review and the Transformation of Constitutions by
Call Number: KF4575 .S74 2021
In this expansive history, Robert J. Steinfeld offers a thorough re-interpretation of the origins of American judicial review and the central role it quickly came to play in the American constitutional system. Beginning with Privy Council review of American colonial legislation, the book goes on to provide detailed descriptions of the character of the first American constitutions, showing that they drew heavily on traditional Anglo/American constitutional assumptions, which treated legislatures as the primary interpreters of constitutions. Steinfeld then expertly analyses the central role lawyers and judges played in transforming these assumptions, creating the practice and doctrine of American judicial review in a half dozen state cases during the 1780s. The book concludes by showing that the ideas formulated during those years shaped critical decisions taken by the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which turned the novel practice into a permanent, if still deeply controversial, feature of the American constitutional system.
Barred by Congress: How a Mormon, a Socialist, and an African American Elected by the People Were Excluded from Office by
Call Number: KF4990 .L53 2022
In Barred by Congress: How a Mormon, a Socialist, and an African American Elected by the People Were Excluded from Office Robert M. Lichtman provides a definitive history of congressional exclusion and expulsion cases. Lichtman offers a timely investigation of the vital constitutional issues, debated since the nation's founding, concerning permissible and impermissible grounds for excluding a member-elect or expelling a member from Congress. Barred by Congress begins with an exhaustive review of the numerous congressional exclusion and expulsion cases in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries before focusing on the stories of the last three members-elect to be excluded from Congress: a Mormon, a Socialist, and an African American--each an outsider in American politics--excluded notwithstanding election by the voters. Lichtman illuminates each of these three remarkable individuals with a detailed biographical sketch. Brigham H. Roberts was a Utah Mormon whose exclusion from the House of Representatives in 1900 was fueled by a nationwide anti-Mormon campaign waged by William Randolph Hearst and his newspaper empire, a controversy centered on the issue of polygamy. Victor L. Berger, a Socialist Party leader and editor of an antiwar Milwaukee newspaper during World War I, was elected to the House despite the efforts of the Wilson administration to derail his campaign by indicting him under the Espionage Act; he was excluded in 1919 and again in 1920. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was a Baptist minister and civil rights advocate who represented the Harlem neighborhood of New York City in the House of Representatives from 1945 until his exclusion in 1967. In Powell v. McCormack, the Supreme Court ruled that Powell's exclusion by the House violated the Constitution, a decision that, a half century later, remains established law but still does not provide complete assurance that the people will be able to (in Alexander Hamilton's words) "choose whom they please to govern them."
Resolving Gerrymandering: A Manageable Standard by
Call Number: KF4905 .S33 2021
"This book proposes a manageable standard for resolving gerrymandering without the entanglements of justiciability and political questions. The standard focuses on the mechanism by which gerrymandering operates, not on the outcome. The precedent for this focus is the solution to disparate population counts in the one-person, one-vote cases. This focus is necessary because any remedy needs to work with other unconstitutional inequities (such as income based gerrymandering) as well as ones based on partisanship"--
Saving the Freedom of Information Act by
Call Number: KF5753 .K86 2021
Enacted in 1966, The Freedom of Information Act (or FOIA) was designed to promote oversight of governmental activities, under the notion that most users would be journalists. Today, however, FOIA is largely used for purposes other than fostering democratic accountability. Instead, most requesters are either individuals seeking their own files, businesses using FOIA as part of commercial enterprises, or others with idiosyncratic purposes like political opposition research. In this sweeping, empirical study, Margaret Kwoka documents how agencies have responded to the large volume of non-oversight requesters by creating new processes, systems, and specialists, which in turn has had a deleterious impact on journalists and the media. To address this problem, Kwoka proposes a series of structural solutions aimed at shrinking FOIA to re-center its oversight purposes.
Separating Church and State by
Call Number: KF4865 .G7375 2022
Steven K. Green, renowned for his scholarship on the separation of church and state, charts the career of the concept and helps us understand how it has fallen into disfavor with many Americans. In 1802, President Thomas Jefferson distilled a leading idea in the early American republic and wrote of a wall of separation between church and state. That metaphor has come down from Jefferson to twenty-first-century Americans through a long history of jurisprudence, political contestation, and cultural influence. This book traces the development of the concept of separation of church and state and the Supreme Court's application of it in the law. Green finds that conservative criticisms of a separation of church and state overlook the strong historical and jurisprudential pedigree of the idea. Yet, arguing with liberal advocates of the doctrine, he notes that the idea remains fundamentally vague and thus open to loose interpretation in the courts. As such, the history of a wall of separation is more a variable index of American attitudes toward the forces of religion and state. Indeed, Green argues that the Supreme Court's use of the wall metaphor has never been essential to its rulings. The contemporary battle over the idea of a wall of separation has thus been a distraction from the real jurisprudential issues animating the contemporary courts.
The Trials of Rasmea Odeh: How a Palestinian Guerrilla Gained and Lost U.S. Citizenship by
Call Number: KF228.O34 L83 2021
On February 21, 1969, a bomb exploded in the largest supermarket in Jerusalem. The blast killed two and injured many more, triggering an intense search for the terrorists behind the plot. Israeli security forces quickly apprehended, tortured, tried, and eventually convicted twenty-one-year-old Palestinian Rasmea Odeh for murder. Twenty-five years later, however, Odeh was not serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison but instead starting a new life in the United States, first in Detroit and later in Chicago, eventually becoming a naturalized citizen and working as a community organizer. Her arrest by U.S. federal authorities in 2013 on charges of unlawful procurement of citizenship and subsequent trial ignited defenders and detractors, even as the facts of the case, the previous conviction, and those of Odeh's life were obscured or ignored. Based on extensive research, The Trials of Rasmea Odeh separates fact from fiction as it follows the remarkable twists of this story, even--or especially--where those facts subvert one political narrative or another. The result is that rare book that is both an extraordinary achievement of scholarly research and a gripping, accessible, and engaging narrative, making it an invaluable resource for discussion of the issues of citizenship, statehood, and the limits of legality this story engages. Distributed for George Mason University Press