First Among Equals: The Supreme Court in American Life

Policy Forum
February 11, 2003 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM EST


Featuring the author, Kenneth W. Starr; with comments by James L. Swanson, Editor in Chief, Cato Supreme Court Review.

What is the proper role of the Supreme Court in American life? Kenneth W. Starr—former law clerk to the chief justice of the United States, Justice Department official, federal appeals court judge, solicitor general, independent counsel, and now appellate lawyer—answers that question in his provocative new book. In chapters on the First Amendment, religion, privacy, affirmative action, voting rights, and criminal justice, Judge Starr argues that ours is a government of limited powers and that the Supreme Court has, since the New Deal, strayed from first principles. Starr offers pithy character and jurisprudential sketches of the justices and pinpoints decisive moments in the Court's history, including the perversion of the Commerce Clause in the 1930s; the descent of law into politics; and, more positively, the Rehnquist Court's restoration of federalism. Join us for a wide-ranging discussion of the Court and the Constitution.