Legislative Deferrals

Statutory Ambiguity, Judicial Power, and American Democracy

Legislative Deferrals

United States judges are criticized for making law when they should be following the laws made by elected officials. This book argues that much of the blame for judicial policymaking lies with elected officials. Legislators sometimes deliberately allow judges to make policy decisions because they want to avoid blame for making difficult choices. To demonstrate the importance of legislative deference, this study reexamines dramatic confrontations between Congress and the Supreme Court over labor policy in the early twentieth century.


 Reviews:

"...intriguing, well-crafted, and thoroughly readable..." Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"[T]his is a terrific book." The Law and Politics Book Review

"An insightful and innovative excursion into the complexities of congressional-judicial interaction, with a particular focus on how legislative action, or inaction, shapes the ultimate judicial interpretation of a law. It is a useful--indeed compelling--reminder that judicial decisions are not necessarily the product of ideological storks." Joel B. Grossman, Johns Hopkins University

"Professor Lovell highlights an important feature in American politics, deliberate statutory ambiguity, offers several well-documented and well-written case studies of deliberate statutory anbiguity, and successfully demonstrates that both existing theories of statutory interpretation and the judicial function do not adequately account for this phenomenon. This is a book persons interested in public law, American political development, and labor law will find fascinating." Mark Graber, University of Maryland

"In his Legislative Deferrals George Lovell uses four case studies of the legislative and judicial history of federal statutes governing industrial relations between 1898 and 1939 to probe the intricate dance between congress and the courts over the implementation of such laws. Political and labor historians especially will learn much from Lovell's key findings. First, that conservative, anti-labor jurists did not wrest power undemocratically from the people's representatives; instead, legislators finessed controversial political issues by consciously deferring to judicial authority. Second, that labor leaders lacked effective political influence, and meekly accepted diluted legislative compromises granted as a reward for behaving responsibly. Lovell's book smartly reinterprets the history of congressional industrial relations, law reform, and judicial intervention in the political process." Melvyn Dubofsky, Binghamton University, State University of New York

"The strengths of Lovell's book are many. It is well organized with a clear hypothesis and a persuasive set of conclusions. It is also elegantly written. Indeed, the stories the author recounts, and the way he recounts them, certainly depict fascinating moments in American political history... a terrific book." Law and Politics Book Review

"[Lovell] makes a compelling case. The book is clearly written and well documented.... Highly recommended." Choice

Reference Title: Reference List

Reference Type: reference-list

Reference Type: reference-list

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