Opinions & Views

Antics at the Bar

Robert Pack: Edward Bennet Williams for the Defense; Harper & Row; New York.

The Burger Court: The Counter-Revolution That Wasn't; Edited by Vincent Blasi; Yale University Press; New Haven, CT.

In the late l 950's conservatives came to understand the importance of the liberal's commitment to methodology. Although the right had already launched a telling critique of the content of liberalism, these critiques frequently missed a key to liberal thought in the UnitedStates: its exaltation of form over matter. As a popular jingle from the early days of the New Deal put it: "We may not know where we're going, but we're on our way!" Imagine being able to offer such a feeble defense of the nation's greatest social experiment–and getting away with it.

The great energy–spiritual, intellec­tual, industrial, and commercial–which America has unleashed upon the world has consistently been guided by prag­matism over principle, method over content, and efficiency over verity. This is not to say that the American system does not shower upon her people–and the world–extraordinary benefits, but to suggest that such benefits are conferred despite the absence of a systematic philosophy and that what America does might be done better if the country were to accept the possibility of and to commit itself to a valid statement of guiding...

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