Saturday, July 16, 2011

Reflections: The Dirty Dozen: How Twelve Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom

 Adam C. Zern shares his thoughts on Robert Levy and William Mellor's Supreme Court commentary The Dirty Dozen:

"In my ongoing quest to better understand the United States Constitution and American history, I have been spending a great deal of time reading books that deal with American history and/or the Constitution in some way.  I have recently become very interested in America's judicial system, especially on a federal level.  The Dirty Dozen is a libertarian commentary on the twelve worst, according to the opinion of the authors, supreme court decisions.  The authors make their opinion and viewpoint on American constitutionalism very, very clear at the beginning of the book, which I appreciated.  I was already aware of their ideological feelings when I bought the book, but I think it's good practice to do as the authors did and make sure the reader understands completely the source of much of their reasoning.

I'm prone to relate to and agree with much of libertarian thinking.  I learned about The Dirty Dozen because I am a frequent visitor to cato.org and Robert Levy is the Cato Institute's Chairman.  I chose to read The Dirty Dozen specifically because it was written by Libertarian thinkers (William Mellor is with the Institute for Justice).  I wanted that type of a perspective on the Supreme Court cases they chose.  The authors are not neophytes to the area of constitutional law and the Supreme Court.  Their logic is reasonable, well-stated, and worth understanding for all concerned citizens from both sides of the ideological spectrum. 

The book is perfectly readable.  It only gets lost in the legal weeds several times, but even then you can find your way out if your patient and stretch your intellectual muscle.  However, like Antonin Scalia's A Matter of Interpretation, which I also read recently, if you are not particularly interested in the Supreme Court or the significant decisions they have made, this book will be difficult to get through.  In a sense, I feel like a topic such as the Supreme Court should be of some interest to everyone, but I know that's not the case.  Read it if your interested, which you should be on some level; if not, it will be a slog."

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