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Forthcoming books: Larry Tribe and others comment on the Court and the Constitution

Forty-five years after the publication of his first book (Technology: Process of Assessment and Choice), Laurence Tribe is preparing to release another book, tentatively titled Uncertain Justice (2014).  Henry Holt is the publisher, and the famed John Sterling will serve as editor of the project.  This forthcoming offering will come out six years after Tribe’s last book (The Invisible Constitution). The book will be the Harvard Law professor’s sixteenth.  Like a few of his other works, Uncertain Justice will be co-authored – this time Joshua Matz (a Harvard law graduate and former blogger on this site) is his literary partner on this work on the Roberts Court.

A few years back, Tribe and Matz taught a course together at Harvard.  In it they set out to instruct college students on “how the legal rules and principles that have developed to implement the Constitution sometimes make both our political system and our system of justice work better — but at other times make them work very badly.” After bringing the Constitution to life for undergraduates, the pair decided to write a book that offered a “deeper understanding of the substance of the Court’s work and how it is transforming our nation.”  In Uncertain Justice, Tribe and Matz seek to “cast useful light on how law and politics relate to one another in a realm that has come to seem more arcane than it needs to be.”  They also aim to “reveal how this Court’s rulings, both dramatic and tentative, reflect deep tensions and uncertainties among the Justices about our shared future.”

“The Roberts Court,” maintain Tribe and Matz, “though widely written about, is even more widely misunderstood and too quickly reduced to unhelpful distinctions between ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives.’ In fact, even as this Court has shaken the foundations of whole swaths of constitutional law, the nine Justices’ relationships to each other, our political system, the Constitution, and the demands of our unique historical moment have remained in flux. These fascinating dynamics must be unearthed if we are to get a grasp on how the Court arrived at its current position and how its recent and future decisions on such key topics as speech, campaign finance, guns, privacy, healthcare, surveillance, and equality may shape our world.”

Before the Tribe and Matz work hits the streets, on of Tribe’s colleagues, Mark Tushnet, will publish his own thoughts on the current Court.  This September W.W. Norton will publish Tushnet’s In the Balance: Law and Politics on the Roberts CourtAmong other things, the 350-page book will examine the “initial years of the Roberts Court and the intellectual battle between Roberts and Kagan for leadership.”  The book will also look at how the Roberts Court “is reshaping legal precedent through decisions unmistakably — though not always predictably — determined by politics as much as by law, on a Court almost perfectly politically divided.”

On another philosophical front, look for A Conspiracy Against Obamacare: The Volokh Conspiracy and the Affordable Care Act (Palgrave-MacMillan), edited by Trevor Burrus of the Cato Institute.  The contributors are Orin Kerr, Randy Barnett, David Bernstein, Ilya Somin, Jonathan Adler, and David Kopel; Paul Clement wrote the foreword. The book is an intellectual biography of the health care case as told by some of the contributors to The Volokh Conspiracy.  More specifically, it is an account of how their blogging helped to craft the arguments that brought the case to the Supreme Court and thereafter informed the “arguments adopted by some of the Justices.” Among other things, the book is a story about the emerging role of blogs in influencing legal battles and public debate.
BlackmanIn a similar vein, though far more historic and wide-ranging in scope, is the forthcoming book by Josh Blackman of the South Texas College of Law. It is titled Unprecedented: The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare (Public Affairs, Sept. 2013).  The book has a foreword by Randy Barnett.

Coming this July is a book that will interest to those who follow the Roberts Court’s use of textualism and related methods of interpreting the Constitution. The book by Garrett Epps of the University of Baltimore Law School is titled American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution (Oxford University Press). In American Epic, Epps guides his readers through “a complete reading of the Constitution to achieve an appreciation of its power and a holistic understanding of what it says.” Epps does not venture to “provide a definitive interpretation” but instead examines the Constitution’s “language and ponder its meaning as revealed through its use of high rhetoric, literary tropes, and even occasional irony.”Epps

Finally, scheduled for this holiday season is a four-volume, 1,500-page set of books by Paul Finkelman of Albany Law School. The forthcoming work is titled Chronology of the Supreme Court: Characters and Cases from John Jay to John Roberts (December, 2013, ABC-CLIO).





Recommended Citation: Ron Collins, Forthcoming books: Larry Tribe and others comment on the Court and the Constitution, SCOTUSblog (May. 30, 2013, 1:00 PM),