Interpretation as Political Process
Who makes constitutional law? Is constitutional doctrine the monopoly of the courts? In accessible and persuasive prose Louis Fisher explains that constitutional law is not solely or even primarily the Supreme Court's "final word" but rather a richly political convergence of separate interpretations. With a broad range of examples, he argues that constitutional principles emerge from a dialogue among all three branches of government--executive, legislative, and judicial. Important contributions also come from the states and the general public. Fisher identifies executive and legislative initiatives in many areas of constitutional significance. Where there is litigation, the Court generally upholds these initiatives or may avoid making a constitutional decision by using "threshold devices." On those rare occasions when the Supreme Court exercises judicial review and strikes down a presidential or congressional action, it is usually only a matter of time before the proposal is revived and the dialogue begins again.
Originally published in 1988.
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