The Skimmer

1 minute read
Randy James

Packing the Court: The Rise of Judicial Power and The Coming Crisis of the Supreme Court

By James MacGregor Burns Penguin; 326 pages

“Presidents come and go,” observed former President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft, “but the Supreme Court goes on forever.” That prospect troubles historian James MacGregor Burns, whose 15th book is a provocative assault on the “imperious” court and its tightening grip on governmental power. Unaccountable Justices have seized the right to overturn acts of Congress–an authority not found in the Constitution–and increasingly thwart the popular will, Burns argues. From blocking Reconstruction-era civil rights to slowing the New Deal, the court’s pro-business ideologues have time and again created “a chokepoint for progressive reforms.” More recently, the divisive Bush v. Gore ruling and far-right Roberts Court offer Burns little comfort. His partisan analysis will have dissenters, but Burns’ elegant volume merits attention for its depth and scope, even if his radical solutions–including ignoring court rulings–would prompt a crisis all their own.


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