A Mere Machine: The Supreme Court, Congress, and American by Anna Harvey

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By Anna Harvey

Introductory textbooks on American executive let us know that the very best court docket is autonomous from the elected branches and that self reliant courts larger shield rights than their extra deferential opposite numbers. yet are those proof or myths?
In this groundbreaking new paintings, Anna Harvey experiences facts displaying that the very best court docket is actually terribly deferential to congressional personal tastes in its constitutional rulings. interpreting cross-national proof, Harvey additionally unearths that the rights protections we get pleasure from within the usa seem to be principally on the grounds that we don't have an self reliant ideal courtroom. in reality, we might most likely have even better protections for political and financial rights have been we to ban our federal courts from workout judicial evaluate altogether. Harvey’s findings recommend that constitutional designers will be clever to heed Thomas Jefferson’s suggestion to “let mercy be the nature of the law-giver, yet permit the pass judgement on be an insignificant machine.”

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Extra resources for A Mere Machine: The Supreme Court, Congress, and American Democracy

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Had the Supreme Court been designed to be a more fully independent institution, the first Rehnquist Court likely would have struck many more liberal federal statutes than it actually did, while the second Rehnquist Court likely would have behaved 33 34 SUPREME COURT, CONGRESS, AND AMERICAN DEMOCRACY about the same. But had the Supreme Court lacked the power of judicial review, we likely would have seen about the same outcomes during the Rehnquist Court’s first eight terms as we actually saw, while seeing many more liberal public policies preserved during that Court’s remaining eleven terms.

77 Chapter Nine reports results from a test of Jefferson’s prediction, using a cross-national measure of judicial independence that incorporates the possibility of judicial removal by the policymaking branches into the tenure-based measure. These results suggest that the benefits of instituting more independent courts are in fact sharply limited to those countries with the least majoritarian policymaking institutions. Even among these countries, the increases in rights that could be realized by instituting more independent courts are dwarfed by those that would result from keeping deferential courts, while democratizing these countries’ policymaking institutions.

The justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, for example, are coded in these studies as possessing “life tenure,” and thus as enjoying the highest level of independence from the policy- SUPREME COURT, CONGRESS, AND AMERICAN DEMOCRACY making branches. 64 But the evidence reported here suggests that they should be. The constitutional provisions enabling House majorities to initiate both impeachment proceedings and bills proposing judicial salary increases appear to have large effects on that court’s decisions.

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