Cato Institute book calls for an activist judiciary to protect individual rights and limit government

"The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of the people." –Justice William O. Douglas

April 10, 2007

Media Contact: (202) 789-5200

Judicial activism is loathed and mistrusted across the political spectrum — conservatives, liberals, and others. For good reason: courts that disregard the rule of law are a danger to republican government. But to author, attorney and constitutional litigator Clint Bolick, even worse than courts that do too much are courts that do too little.

In his provocative new book from the Cato Institute, David’s Hammer: The Case for an Activist Judiciary, Bolick argues that courts were designed to play a vital role in preventing tyranny by the legislative and executive branches. Drawing upon history, court decisions, and compelling real-life examples, he demonstrates that courts are the last line of defense for Americans to restrain the government to its constitutional boundaries.  Written in sharp, clear, and accessible terms, Bolick makes a convincing case that courts should act aggressively to protect precious liberties.

Bolick has spent the greater part of his distinguished career challenging government laws and regulations in court.  It is from these experiences that both the title of this exceptional book and his vigorously thought-provoking perspective emerges. As he states in the preface, “In the courts an advocate can achieve outcomes that are painted in black and white, rather than shades of gray; and courts are a forum in which the proverbial David can, and often does, defeat Goliath.”

In addition, David’s Hammer addresses what the Constitution’s framers intended when they created a federal judiciary and the traces the uneven record of the Supreme Court in fulfilling its role. Through cases impacting individual rights and limits of government power, Bolick details the sharply varying real-world implications of courts that take their constitutional roles seriously and those that do not. He concludes by exploring the greatly untapped potential of state courts in interpreting their own constitutions to protect individual liberty and constrain government power.

David’s Hammer, in short, reclaims for the judiciary its intended and critical role as the ultimate safeguard of a free society.