Saturday, October 3, 2009

Barry Friedman's "The Will of the People"

Barry Friedman is the Vice Dean and Jacob D. Fuchsberg Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. He has taught, written and litigated about the Constitution for twenty-five years.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Will of the People: How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution, and reported the following:
Page 99. Presaging the Civil War, South Carolina convenes a revolutionary convention and nullifies the federal tariff law, threatening to secede if challenged. Andrew Jackson wins the election of 1832 by a landslide and swears to preserve the Union and the authority of the national government. But Jackson has a problem ... a big one. Over the last few months, the State of Georgia has been in outright defiance of the Supreme Court’s decision protecting the native Cherokee. How can Jackson reconcile permitting Georgia to defy the Supreme Court, but refusing to allow South Carolina to do the same when a congressional statute was at stake?

Answer? He can’t, and he doesn’t. Instead – though Jackson was no lover of the Court, and had been quietly supportive of Georgia’s defiance – he helps resolve the situation in Georgia and becomes a strong advocate for judicial power.

The Will of the People describes how, in steps like these, great and small, the Supreme Court goes from being a powerless and often-ignored body to the most powerful court in the world: deciding momentous social issues and resolving elections. Challenging the oft-held view that the justices of the Supreme Court are beyond popular control, The Will of the People demonstrates that judicial power actually has been shaped by popular opinion. The book is an historical account of 250+ plus years of American history, and how public reaction to the justices throughout that history made the Supreme Court – and the Constitution – what it is today.
Read an excerpt from The Will of the People, and learn more about the book and author at the book's official website and Barry Friedman's blog.

--Marshal Zeringue