Gordon Silverstein

Gordon Silverstein, assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of Imbalance of Powers: Constitutional Interpretation and the Making of American Foreign Policy and the forthcoming How Law Kills Politics.

Recent Articles

Restraining the Judges

The Most Democratic Branch: How the Courts Serve America by Jeffrey Rosen (Oxford University Press, 256 pages, $25.00) Worried about stem-cell research? Concerned about education, affirmative action, gay marriage, environmental quality, and the criminal-justice system? Do you find campaign fund-raising objectionable? Want to change the way congressional district lines are drawn? And just who did win the 2000 election? Once upon a time these issues would have been fought out primarily through elections, in Congress, and from one state legislature to another. No longer. Even when legislation is adopted, it seems only the prelude to a lawsuit that will ultimately determine public policy. Little wonder then that the struggle over replacing William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court sparked intense debate. The New Republic 's legal affairs editor, Jeffrey Rosen, thinks the courts have assumed too much power, and in his new book he puts the blame squarely on the justices...

All Power to the President

The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11 by John Yoo ( University of Chicago Press, 378 pages, $29.00 ) George W. Bush was caught flat-footed on the morning of September 11, 2001. Intent on exercising executive power without any interference from the courts or Congress, the White House turned to John Yoo -- a young law professor on leave to serve as a mid-level official in the Justice Department -- to provide the constitutional foundation for the war on terror. Yoo cranked out a series of now-infamous memos on topics ranging from the use of torture to the government's authority to eavesdrop on American citizens, attempting to square the Bush-Cheney demand for unfettered power with the limits imposed by the Constitution. In the shadow of 9-11, Yoo formulated a theory to support the claim that presidential powers in foreign affairs had steadily (and constitutionally) expanded over the past 200 years to the point where they are effectively unlimited...