By Anna Harvey
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Extra resources for A Mere Machine: The Supreme Court, Congress, and American Democracy
And among the countries with the most democratic policymaking institutions, more independent courts actually produce lower levels of rights protections than their less independent counterparts. If these results withstand further scrutiny, they imply that we would actually have fewer protections for individual rights in the United States were our federal courts more independent. The Rehnquist Court’s constitutional rulings on federal statutes may illustrate this ﬁnding. As reported in Chapters Five through Seven, during the “ﬁrst” Rehnquist Court, a conservative majority on the Court largely pulled its constitutional punches in its rulings on liberal federal statutes.
SUPREME COURT, CONGRESS, AND AMERICAN DEMOCRACY solicitous of House majorities in order to get judicial salary and budget increases on the appropriations agenda. Yet others may object that judicial and elected branch preferences should only rarely be out of alignment, given that federal judges are selected by the joint action of the president and Senate majorities. If this is case, then the question of whether the Constitution incentivizes judicial deference to elected branch preferences is largely moot; that question should only arise when judicial preferences diverge from those of the members of the elected branches.
But in part the apparently negative consequences of judicial review, even as exercised by democratically accountable courts, may stem from the nature of judicial review as an institutional practice. Crudely speaking, the exercise of judicial review generally involves examination of a statute or an executive branch action in order to determine whether that statute or action is, in the opinion of the sitting judges, in conformity with a constitution. If the reviewing judges agree that it is, then the statute or action stands; the status quo is maintained.
A Mere Machine: The Supreme Court, Congress, and American Democracy by Anna Harvey