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Active Liberty

Active Liberty

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Add This - Active Liberty

Written by Stephen BreyerAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Stephen Breyer

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 176 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • On Sale: October 10, 2006
  • Price: $15.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-307-27494-6 (0-307-27494-2)
Also available as an eBook.
about this book

A brilliant new approach to the Constitution and courts of the United States by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

For Justice Breyer, the Constitution’s primary role is to preserve and encourage what he calls “active liberty”: citizen participation in shaping government and its laws. As this book argues, promoting active liberty requires judicial modesty and deference to Congress; it also means recognizing the changing needs and demands of the populace. Indeed, the Constitution’s lasting brilliance is that its principles may be adapted to cope with unanticipated situations, and Breyer makes a powerful case against treating it as a static guide intended for a world that is dead and gone. Using contemporary examples from federalism to privacy to affirmative action, this is a vital contribution to the ongoing debate over the role and power of our courts.

“Now, with Samuel Alito succeeding the retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, it remains to be seen who will stand at the center of the court in the future and command its vote when it is narrowly divided. With Active Liberty,Stephen Breyer has offered a theory of democratic pragmatism that is very likely to play a powerful role in deciding such controversies. Everyone interested in the trajectory of the new Roberts court should surely read it.” — Kathleen Sullivan, New York Times Book Review

“At last, a direct and substantial challenge, within the Court, to the constitutional thought of Justice Scalia.... With this small but important book, Justice Breyer emerges as a leading theorist of constitutional interpretation on the highest bench in the land.” —Cass R. Sunstein, The New Republic

“Justice Breyer gives us a delightful insight into his philosophy of deciding cases…. With Justice Breyer increasingly seen as a swing vote, lawyers are certain to study this book for clues to his thinking.” —Jess Bravin, Wall Street Journal

“A provocative and well-argued case for reading the Constitution in light of the founders’ greatest concern: giving the people the power to govern themselves. . . . What we need more of, Active Liberty insists, is not activist judges but activist citizens” —Adam Cohen, New York Times, Op Ed

“An important contribution. Active Liberty serves to clarify the stakes in contemporary disputes over the courts, rightly emphasizing areas of common ground alongside those of controversy.”–Benjamin Wittes, The Washington Post Book World