The Dirty Dozen: How Twelve Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom

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About the Book

Alexander Hamilton wrote that “the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution.” If only that were true.

The Founding Fathers wanted the judicial branch to serve as a check on the power of the legislative and executive, and gave the Supreme Court the responsibility of interpreting the Constitution in a way that would safeguard individual freedoms. In some cases, like Brown V. Board of Education and United States V. Lopez, the Court fulfilled its role, protecting us from racial discrimination and the heavy hand of the federal government.

But sadly, the Supreme Court has also handed down many destructive decisions on cases you probably never learned about in school. In The Dirty Dozen, two distinguished legal scholars shed light on the twelve worst cases, which allowed government to:
•interfere in your private contractual agreements
•curtail your rights to criticize or support political candidates
•arrest and imprison you indefinitely, without filing charges
•seize your private property, without compensation, when someone uses the property for criminal activity—even if you don’t know about it!

This is not a book just for lawyers. It’s for all Americans who want to understand how the Supreme Court can affect our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This paperback edition includes a new preface, “Guns, Bailouts, and Empathetic Judges,” which highlights new and critical issues that have arisen since the book’s initial edition was published in 2008.

About the Authors

ROBERT A. LEVY is chairman of the Cato Institute’s board of directors. He joined Cato as senior fellow in constitutional studies in 1997 after 25 years in business. He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and many other publications. He lives in Naples, Florida, and Asheville, North Carolina.

WILLIAM MELLOR is the president and general counsel of the Institute for Justice. He litigates constitutional cases involving economic liberty, property rights, school choice, and free speech. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia.

What Others Have Said

“Levy and Mellor, in this excellent examination of twelve far‐​reaching Supreme Court cases, force readers to question the direction in which the judiciary has led our country over the past century.”
Publishers Weekly

“Levy and Mellor offer fascinating insights on twelve of the most important and controversial cases of our time. Readers will gain new appreciation for the Supreme Court’s role in affecting their lives and liberties.”
—Nadine Strossen, President, American Civil Liberties Union

“With wisdom and lucid prose, Levy and Mellor go straight to the sad, central truth of the American judiciary. We have created a system in which nine people are presumed to be smarter than 300 million. The Dirty Dozen shows us the results of this foolish assumption—the twelve worst Supreme Court rulings. Or, that is to say, the twelve worst Supreme Court rulings so far.”
—P.J. O’Rourke, author of On The Wealth of Nations

“A passionate, thoughtful, provocative, and eminently readable book.”
—Eugene Volokh, Professor of Law, UCLA; founder of The Volokh Conspiracy blog

“If you’re like most people, you probably have only a dim sense of how many of your constitutionally‐​guaranteed freedoms the Supreme Court has taken away. The Dirty Dozen is the book for you. Bob Levy and Chip Mellor spell it out clearly and powerfully.”
—Tucker Carlson

“Levy and Mellor have chosen 12 Supreme Court cases that, in their opinion, severely limited individual rights through the expansion of government. As their introduction makes clear, they are conservatives who favor limited government intervention, and the cases they have chosen reflect their position. The chapters are organized by the constitutional issues raised by each case, such as promoting the general welfare, regulating interstate commerce, and property rights. The authors’ critiques of these issues are sure to provoke debate. However, they do examine each case on the basis of legal reasoning and in each chapter lay out the flaws in the Court’s thinking that make each decision in their view a “bad” one. These explanations are the strong points of the book. Although some readers will disagree with their viewpoint, Levy and Mellor have done a good job of explaining their thinking.”
—Becky Kennedy, Library Journal

“I’ve been looking for one place to examine all the structural damage done over the years by the Supreme Court. Here it is.”
—Hon. Andrew P. Napolitano, Senior Judicial Analyst, Fox News Channel

“Levy & Mellor are the Hamilton & Madison of our age. This book has timeless value; in an election year, it is indispensable.”
—Douglas W. Kmiec, Professor of Constitutional Law, Pepperdine University; Constitutional Legal Counsel to President Ronald Reagan

“[The authors] have brought to the general public a challenging indictment of the Supreme Court that is at once accessible and provocative.”
—Henry Mark Holzer, Human​Events​.com

“Straightforward and clear. Brilliantly reasoned and meticulously researched. The Dirty Dozen tells the story of how the Supreme Court has undermined our liberty.”
—Pat Toomey, Club for Growth

“One of the President’s greatest powers is the nomination of Supreme Court justices. The next time someone says elections don’t matter, tell them to read The Dirty Dozen.”
—Larry Elder, Host, The Larry Elder Show