Review of Overruling Democracy – The Supreme Court vs The American People

Overruling Democracy: The Supreme Court vs. The American People is a controversial work by Doctor Jamin B. Raskin, professor of constitutional law at American university. His writings have been published in Washington post, Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The American Prospect, The Washington Monthly, The American Lawyer, Legal Times and George and Slate. Also he is author of We the Students. The present book had been published in 2003 by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Books Inc.) with the ISBN: 0415934397 and 27.50$ price in US.

The book includes ten chapters in 242 pages, bibliographical references as endnote and index. Each chapter begins with a prelude from famous Americans quotations on America. As it’s obvious from the title, its debate in on political questions concerning the issue of democracy according to the Constitution and rulings of the Supreme Court in the United Stats of America. The books had been published in a hardback and strong binding which it self resembles the seriousness of legal issues. On front cover a standing double-headed hammer is figured which can be a metaphor for doubt and hesitation in Supreme Court decision making which is in dilemma on which head should be hammered.

Brian P. Marron in his review of the work asserts:

“In Overruling Democracy, Professor Jamin Raskin discusses how the Supreme Court has failed to enforce basic political rights by subordinating democratic principles inherent in the Constitution. The Court tolerates the usurpation of popular sovereignty through the manipulation of the electoral process. The Court also fails to protect the functioning of democratic principles in our everyday lives in cases dealing with schools and corporations. Throughout the book, Raskin offers several solutions to the democracy deficit, including several proposed constitutional amendments to clearly enshrine democratic rights. However, the issues are presented in such a manner that may undermine the book’s effectiveness as a tool for building support for a democracy reform movement.”

This book of course not as a handbook but as a really informative one can be useful for those with democracy concerns especially in modern United States context. As John Sweeney president of the AFL-CIO had echoed about this book:

“A gripping book about the Supreme Court’s assault on the political rights of the people. This book is required reading for every citizen who cares about the fate of our democracy.”

Raskin focusing on Bush vs. Gore (2000) “Taking on the elitist and reactionary impulses of contemporary conservatism, Overruling Democracy lays out a compelling plan for “we the people” to overrule the Court with some basic constitutional changes in the new century. Raskin’s aggressive to “constitutional patriotism” shows the way forward to a more democratic constitution, judiciary and nation.”

In his presentation Raskin asks for revising constitution by adding an amendment so called “Right to Vote” amendment, as he believes there is no real democratic franchise in a document which states 3/5 portion for Men. He also recommends for general election in presidency campaign in which the president must be chosen out of all 18-aged and older people direct vote and of course not in electoral system; in his suggestion every individual candidate who can gain at least 50% of the ballot regardless of his/her affiliation to any major, minor or no political party would be the President of the United States of America. Raskin offers that if none of candidates could get the half ballot, the last candidate’s votes in ranking should be shared to others and this process should be continued till one can gain the criterion.

E.J Dionne author of Why Americans Hate Politics and They only Look Dead: Why Progressives Will Dominate the Next Political Era has a thinkable view about this book. He Says:

“American democracy thrives because people like Jamin Raskin, an eloquent, thoughtful, and provocative small-d democrat, insist on reminding us of our aspirations to equality and rule by the people. You may disagree with some of his ideas, as I do, and still come away refreshed and even electrified. The old issue was liberal judicial activism. The new issue is a conservative judicial activism that could constrain the ability of the democratic branches of our government to solve public problems. For liberals, Raskin says, ‘it is time to let go of any lingering nostalgic enchantment with the Supreme Court.’ He’s right.”

In general this work at least gives new visions on issue of American democracy and this point that whether it’s is appropriate kind of peoples’ consenting or just a mocking oligarchy in disguise of democracy.

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