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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 121085 Find in a Library
Title: Constitutional Doctrine and Political Direction
Journal: Trial  Volume:25  Issue:12  Dated:(December 1989)  Pages:72-75,77
Author(s): R F Nagel
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 5
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article analyzes the opinions of Justices Scalia and Brennan in Michael H. v. Gerald D., emphasizing how Justice Scalia put forth an argument challenging the assumptions relied on by Justice Brennan.
Abstract: Justice Scalia asserts traditional values about the roles of husbands, wives, and parents and challenges Justice Brennan's tolerance of adultery and fatalism about the future. Justice Scalia asserts that the purpose of the Constitution is to function as a link to the past rather than as an ever-fluctuating document that must respond to change. The past can be used by political institutions to shape the future, Justice Scalia asserts. Justice Brennan, on the other hand, sees change as good, for it permits new beginnings, free from inherited prejudice and superstitions. While the outcome of the Scalia-Brennan discussion is not momentous for constitutional law, it signals vast differences in values separating some of the Justices. These differences will not shape the direction of the Court unless new judicial appointees share Justice Scalia's intellectual vigor and independence and take issue with underlying analytic norms. 10 footnotes.
Main Term(s): Judicial attitudes
Index Term(s): Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Judicial decisions; Legal doctrines; US Supreme Court decisions
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