Constitutional Disorder

The Supreme Court, as Stephen Presser laments, has wandered far off course; increasingly its Justices have taken to reading their own preferences and prejudices into the Constitution, thereby abandoning their solemn obligation to act as its guardians by interpreting its provisions in accordance with the basic values and intentions of the Framers. What is more, he points out, not only has the Court assumed powers it was never intended to have, its decisions on crucial constitutional issues have embraced values and principles clearly antithetical to those of the Founders. In so doing, he argues, the Court has contributed its share to our cultural degeneration. In sum, he is convinced that "The Supreme Court has lost its way, and it is time for the people to recapture the Constitution."

Presser, a professor of law at Northwestern University, proceeds logically in developing his case. To show that the Court has gone astray, he endeavors to reconstruct the metaphysical foundations of the Framers' thought. He then proceeds, by way of demonstrating what went wrong, to explain the origins and meaning of substantive due process and selective incorporation, before going on to critique the Court's decisions in the areas of racial integration, reapportionment, criminal procedures, the establishment and exercise of religion, and abortion. After this groundwork, he shows how the Court's decisions regarding "race, religion,...

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