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The American Supreme Court, Sixth Edition

Sixth Edition

For more than fifty years, Robert G. McCloskey’s classic work on the Supreme Court’s role in constructing the US Constitution has introduced generations of students to the workings of our nation’s highest court.

As in prior editions, 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 sentiment. In this new edition, Sanford Levinson extends McCloskey’s magisterial treatment to address developments since the 2010 election, including the Supreme Court’s decisions regarding the Defense of Marriage Act, the Affordable Care Act, and gay marriage.

The best and most concise account of the Supreme Court and its place in American politics, McCloskey's wonderfully readable book is an essential guide to the past, present, and future prospects of this institution.

440 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2016

The Chicago History of American Civilization

History: American History

Law and Legal Studies: The Constitution and the Courts

Political Science: American Government and Politics


“The classic account of the American Supreme Court by the mid-twentieth century’s most astute student of American constitutionalism updated by the early twenty-first century’s most astute student of American constitutionalism. This is the first work constitutional beginners should—and constitutional scholars do—turn to.”

Mark Graber, University of Maryland School of Law

“Essential. . . . This fifth edition carries on the tradition of earlier iterations, keeping McCloskey’s keen insights, analytical framework, and normative instincts intact . . . Levinson supplements the original argument with chapters . . . that draw on his remarkable intellectual range and invite readers to continue asking the still-salient questions McCloskey set forth a half-century earlier.”

Choice, on the fifth edition

Table of Contents

Preface to the Sixth Edition
Preface to the First Edition

One           The Genesis and Nature of Judicial Power
Two            The Establishment of the Right to Decide: 1789–1810
Three         The Marshall Court and the Shaping of the Nation: 1810–1835
Four           The Court under Taney: The Natural History of Judicial Prestige
Five            Constitutional Evolution in the Gilded Age: 1865–1900
Six              The Judiciary and the Regulatory State: 1900–1937
Seven        The Court and Postwar America: 1937–1959
Eight          Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, and the Supreme Court
Nine           Judicial Monitoring of the New American Welfare State
Epilogue   The Court of Today and the Lessons of History

Important Dates
Bibliographical Essay

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