The U.S. Supreme Court and the Electoral Process: , Second Edition

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David K. Ryden
Georgetown University Press, Sep 6, 2002 - Political Science - 384 pages
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The U.S. Supreme Court—at least until Bush v. Gore—had seemed to float along in an apolitical haze in the mind of the electorate. It was the executive branch and the legislative branch that mucked about in politics getting dirty, the judicial branch kept its robes—and nose—clean. The U.S. Supreme Court and the Electoral Process makes it abundantly clear however that before, during, and after the judicial decision that made George W. Bush the President of the United States, everything was, is, and will likely be, politics-including the decisions handed down by the highest court in the land.

This revised and updated edition takes into account not only the recent famous (or infamous, depending on the reader's point of view) judicial decision on the Presidency, but a myriad of others as well in which the U.S. Supreme Court has considered the constitutionality of a wide range of issues involving voting and elections, representation, and political participation. Practitioners and academics in both law and political science examine a number of court actions that directly affect how we choose those who govern us, and how those decisions have affected our electoral politics, constitutional doctrine, and the fundamental concepts of democracy, including: racial redistricting, term limits, political patronage, campaign finance regulations, third-party ballot access, and state ballot initiatives limiting civil liberties.

Of the first edition, CHOICE said, The U.S. Supreme Court and the Electoral Process "plumbs the Supreme Court's constitutive apolitical role as 'primary shaper of the electoral system' and reveals the pervasive involvement of the Court in the political process."

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Selected pages


Out of the Shadows Bush v Gore the Court and the Selection of a President
Bush v Gore Typifies the Rehnquist Courts Hostility to Voters
An Agnostic Assessment of the 2000 Presidential Election
What Bush v Gore Does and Does Not Tell Us about the Supreme Court and Electoral Politics
The Imperiousness of Bush v Gore
The Court the Constitution and Election Law Merging Practice and Theory
The Supreme Court Has No Theory of Politicsand Be Thankful for Small Favors
The Supreme Court as Architect of Election Law Summing Up Looking Ahead

The Supreme Courts Patronage Decisions and the Theory and Practice of Politics
The Court and Political Reform Friend or Foe?
Entrenching the TwoParty System The Supreme Courts Fusion Decision
To Curb Parties or to Court Them? Seeking a Constitutional Framework for Campaign Finance Reform
Plebiscites and Minority Rights A Contrarian View
Table of Cases

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Popular passages

Page 66 - First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose: second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion: , , , finally, the statute must not foster "an excessive government entanglement with religion...
Page 15 - Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment ; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
Page 198 - By a faction I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.
Page 88 - Congress, under the pretext of executing its powers pass laws for the accomplishment of objects not intrusted to the government, it would become the painful duty of this tribunal, should a case requiring such a decision come before it, to say that such an act was not the law of the land.
Page 229 - No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.
Page 91 - Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you, in the most solemn manner, against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.
Page 176 - But the concept that government may restrict the speech of some elements of our society in order to enhance the relative voice of others is wholly foreign to the First Amendment...
Page 48 - The plaintiffs' burden is to produce evidence to support findings that the political processes leading to nomination and election were not equally open to participation by the group in question — that its members had less opportunity than did other residents in the district to participate in the political processes and to elect legislators of their choice.
Page 287 - While the result of a court decision in a state legislative apportionment controversy may be to require the restructuring of the geographical distribution of seats in a state legislature, the judicial focus must be concentrated upon ascertaining whether there has been any discrimination against certain of the State's citizens which constitutes an impermissible impairment of their constitutionally protected right to vote. Like Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 US 535, such a case "touches a sensitive and important...

About the author (2002)

David K. Ryden is associate professor of political science and Towsley Research Scholar at Hope College, Holland, Michigan, and author of Representation in Crisis: The U.S. Supreme Court, Interest Groups, and Political Parties.

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