Book Forum

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

May 6, 2008 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM EDT


Featuring the authors Robert A. Levy, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies, Cato Institute, and William Mellor, President and General Counsel, Institute for Justice, with comments by Lyle Denniston, Supreme Court Correspondent for SCOTUSblog. Moderated by Roger Pilon, Cato Institute.

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Why are we, in many respects, less free now than we were 200 years ago? How did we get from our Founders’ Constitution, which established a strictly limited government, to today’s Constitution, which has expanded government and curtailed individual rights? That’s the story of The Dirty Dozen — a book written for non‐​lawyers about 12 U.S. Supreme Court cases that moved the course of American history away from constitutional government. Whether it involves the regulation of commerce, political speech, economic liberties, property rights, welfare, racial preferences, gun owners’ rights, or imprisonment without charge, the U.S. Supreme Court has behaved in a manner that would have stunned, mystified, and outraged our Founding Fathers. We were supposed to have a government of limited power and maximum freedom for the individual. Instead, we have been afflicted by a vast enlargement of both federal and state power, condoned by a Supreme Court that has selectively protected some — but not all — of our constitutionally guaranteed rights. Please join the authors for a discussion of the 12 worst Supreme Court cases of the modern era, with commentary by the dean of Supreme Court reporters.