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May 20, 2002

Liberalism versus Democracy

In my new upcoming Populist column, Remembering the Popular Will for Civil Rights, I am trying to recover the memory of the legislative struggle for civil rights that predated Brown v. Board of Education largely to challenge the idea that democracy and "rights" are in some kind of opposition. As I note, "Progressives sometimes speak as if our basic rights have to be defended against the majority, when it has been vibrant democratic politics that has been the best defender of justice over our history." Historically, it has been the most elite institutions, the Senate and the Supreme Court, that undermined social justice, with the Warren Court making a very unusual and (in retrospect) very limited exception to that rule. I am currently working on a larger, probably book-length approach to the subject of how the Supreme Court undermined justice and democracy in US history, following up on writing I did after the Florida vote fiasco advocating impeachment of Supreme Court Justices. Bits of that work will no doubt keep popping up in articles and on this blog.

Posted by Nathan at May 20, 2002 11:27 AM

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