Louis Fisher on Congress and Protecting Individual Rights

5829925604_36b5677f9e_bAt a time when Congress seems determined to set new lows for being dysfunctional, it may seem strange to publish a book that explains how lawmakers for more than two centuries have protected the rights of blacks, women, children, religious liberty, Native Americans, and other minorities. The purpose is not merely to give credit to the legislative institution and understand how its performance compares favorably to the record of the executive and judicial branches. The book underscores the evident risks of putting our faith solely in Presidents and the Supreme Court. Such a decision moves us from democracy to a government with two elected officials in the executive branch and none in the judiciary. This book does more than remind us of what Congress once accomplished. It encourages a debate on specific steps needed to strengthen U.S. democracy and restore the capacity of members of Congress to discharge their constitutional duties. The intent of the book is to stimulate a dialogue on how we can protect and renew what the Framers hoped to create: a system of self-government.

–Written by Louis Fisher, a Scholar in Residence at the Constitution Project and author of the forthcoming book, “Congress: Protecting Individual Rights.”

Publisher’s Pick: New Books from UPK

9780700620890As lawsuits against Obamacare again await a decision by the Supreme Court, many might wonder about the prominent role of state attorneys-general in bringing suits attacking the health care law. Recently we published the first study of litigation pursued by many state attorneys-general on policy issues, focusing on cases involving the liability of tobacco companies for the health consequences of smoking and litigation involving climate change and Obamacare. Paul Nolette’s “Federalism on Trial: State Attorneys General and National Policymaking in Contemporary America” shows how states, working together, have sought to use the courts to influence the policies of the federal government from both the left and the right. Liberal state attorneys-general have used law suits to push the government to adopt aggressive policies against climate change while cases have been litigated by conservative state attorneys-general to stop Obamacare. Nolette explores the legal strategies employed in these cases, the involvement of private interest groups in supporting the litigation, and the role of state politics, especially the ambitions of the attorneys-general and their relationship to other state leaders, in determining who will sue. Charles Epp says that “Nolette’s rich, carefully researched analysis shows that AG’s litigation campaigns are coordinated, politically polarized, and enhance federal regulation as much as challenge it.”

One of the exciting aspects of publishing now is that the internet and blogs like this offer the opportunity to build new connections between our authors and new audiences for their ideas and work. As a publisher of books on current affairs as well as history, I am eager to see these books join the conversations about important issues. From time to time in this blog, we will highlight new Kansas books that can change the way we think about critical issues now or important events of the past. Paul Nolette’s book is a great example of the public affairs books we publish and that we will bring to your attention in this blog and through our other marketing efforts.

–Written by Chuck Myers, Director of University Press of Kansas