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The New Right v. the Constitution

By Stephen Macedo

During the Senate Judiciary Committee’s 1991 hearings on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, Chairman Joe Biden repeatedly raised the specter of a new school of judicial thinking that would offer strong judicial protection for property as well as privacy. One of the key books that launched this school is The New Right v. the Constitution, in which Harvard political scientist Stephen Macedo warns that the New Right’s “Jurisprudence of Original Intent” elevates untrammeled majoritarianism above constitutionally guaranteed liberties. He proposes instead a principled judicial activism that interprets the Constitution as a charter of liberties that protects individual freedom against a whole range of legislative and executive assaults. Macedo’s defense of constitutional liberties sharply challenges constitutional theorists of both left and right.

About the Author

Stephen Macedo is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics and a member of the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. He is the author of Just Married: Same‐​Sex Couples, Monogamy, and the Future of Marriage (Princeton University Press, 2015) and Diversity and Distrust: Civic Education in a Multicultural Democracy (Harvard University Press, 2000).