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Judicial activism is condemned by both right and left, for good
reason: lawless courts are a threat to republican government. But
challenging conventional wisdom, constitutional litigator Clint
Bolick argues in David's Hammer that far worse is a
judiciary that allows the other branches of government to run
roughshod over precious liberties. For better or for worse, only a
vigorous judiciary can enforce the limits on executive and
legislative action, protect constitutional rights, and tame
That, Bolick demonstrates, is exactly the role the framers intended
the courts to play, envisioning a judiciary deferential to proper
democratic governance but bold in defense of freedom. But the
historical record is painfully uneven. During the Warren era,
courts protected freedom of speech and equal protection of the law
but denigrated other important rights and took on executive and
legislative powers that brought disrepute to the judiciary. The
Rehnquist Court restored some balance, reining in judicial excesses
and protecting property rights, but stopped far short of the
activist judicial role the framers charted for the courts in
policing conduct of other branches of government that exceeds
Bolick showcases numerous real-world examples of people whose
rights to free speech, economic liberty, equal protection of the
law, and private property were violated by government-victims of
government oppression whose only recourse is the courts.
David's Hammer reclaims for the judiciary its intended
role as the ultimate safeguard of a free society.
David's Hammer is the recipient of the Lysander Spooner Award for Advancing the Literature of
Production of David's Hammer was made possible with
the generous assistance of Steve G. Stevanovich.