First published more than four decades ago, Robert McCloskey's classic work on the Supreme Court's role in constructing the U.S. Constitution has introduced generations of students to the workings of our nation's highest court. Sanford Levinson brings this new edition into the twenty-first century, revising the last two chapters, which cover the events of the past forty years, and updating the book's preface, coda, chronology, and bibliographical essay. [via]
As in the second edition, McCloskey's original text remains unchanged. In his historical interpretation, he argues that the strength of the Court has always been its sensitivity to the changing political scene, as well as its reluctance to stray too far from the main currents of public sentiments. In two new chapters, Levinson discusses the Court's more recent role, especially during the 1960s, as protector of the civil rights and liberties of minorities. He updates as well the Court's continuing role as monitor of the welfare state, looking at the litigation following the 1996 changes in welfare policy by Congress and the President. Also covered in this new edition are the recent Court decisions on federalism, which perhaps portend an enhanced role for the court as the "umpire" of the federal system; the clash between Congress and the Court over the scope of the required accommodation by government of religious conduct; and the Court's role in the impeachment of President Clinton.
Wonderfully readable and concisely written, McCloskey's book is an essential guide to the past, present, and future prospects of America's highest court.