Judicial Review and the Law of the Constitution - Snowiss, Sylvia - Yale University Press
Political Science

Judicial Review and the Law of the Constitution

  • Sylvia Snowiss
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Out of Print.

In this original and thought-provoking book, Sylvia Snowiss presents a new interpretation of the origin of judicial review.  Snowiss traces the development of judicial review from American independence through the tenure of John Marshall as Chief Justice, showing that Marshall’s role was far more innovative and decisive than has yet been recognized.  According to Snowiss, all support for judicial review before Marshall contemplated a fundamentally different practice from that which we know today.  Marshall did not simply reinforce or extend ideas already accepted but, in superficially minor and disguised ways, effected a radical transformation in the nature of the constitution and the judicial relationship to it.

Snowiss argues that originally constitutional limits were understood to be a statement of first political principles committed to writing.  Through carefully crafted opinions and without public recognition Marshall transformed these principles into supreme written law.  Simultaneously he changed judicial review from the defense of principle in circumstances of clear violation into routine application and interpretation of constitutional text.  In her last chapter Snowiss probes the implications of this analysis for contemporary controversies about judicial review.  Her reinterpretation offers a new perspective on assumptions about intent and the status of constitutional text made both implicitly and explicitly by contending sides in the fundamental rights debate.  More important, it reopens and recasts the most basic and enduring problem of American constitutional law—the relationship between its legal and political components.

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