Great Cases in Constitutional Law: Book Review

Great Cases in Constitutional Law

Edited by Robert P. George

Book Review

Read: September 2009

This book was most worthwhile. It covers Marbury, Dred Scott, Brown, Lochner and Roe. I’d read so much about these in other essays, but those essays never delved into them much. It was assumed that the reader had an understanding. In this book two writers dealt with each case, one responding to the other. I enjoyed the argumentations and writing immensely even when I perceived that the authors were not of my ilk. They tried to make their writing accessible. The topics were challenging, but the style had verve.

The authors are some of the big names: Tushnet, Waldron, Sunstein, Arkes, Elshtain, George Will, and, of course, the introduction by Robert P. George. Others, I had not heard of.

Judicial review

Activists judges

Legislating from the bench

Original meaning


Courts vs legislative remedies

Humility, modesty in action by courts



George thinks Lochner deserves opprobrium. One of the others approves the decision, more or less. Epstein admires the Lochner era which restrained social welfare legislation.

I’d like to read this book again. Next time, it will be my own copy, not a library loaner. Then I can annotate. Books these articles referred to beckon. I’d like to make this an area of study for the rest of my life, and perhaps teach it to beginners, say at the junior college level.


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