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The Future of Limited Government - Summary and Analysis

Uploaded by prncssmb on Apr 09, 2002

The paper, “The Future of Limited Government,” by Jim L. Riley, is an examination of the conflict between government authoritarian control and individual freedom. It discusses the involvement of the Supreme Court in balancing this conflict, while paying particular attention to the Court’s decisions under Chief Justice Earl Warren. The paper also discusses various social theories stated by Lynne Iglitzen, B.F. Skinner, and Robert Jungk concerning the impact of human behavior in the control/freedom conflict. The paper concludes by recognizing that rapid developments in technology demand a reevaluation of civil rights and liberties.

It is important to recognize that the paper was written in 1974, and while some of the points it makes continue to be relevant, the author could not have anticipated the post-9/11 realities affecting the duty of the government to protect its citizens and the effects on individual freedoms when that duty is dismissed. The paper was also written during the time when the Watergate scandal made government intrusion the great issue of the day.

One hint of the time this paper was written is the stark distinction the author makes between liberals, as supporters of the individual against an oppressive government, and conservatives. In our current age of “political correctness,” it is much more difficult to draw any such distinction, when the so-called liberals of the 1960s and 1970s have become the thought regulators of the 2000s.

The Supreme Court

The paper begins by saying that political disputes “gravitate” to the Supreme Court. It says, in fact, that it is the duty of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution with regard to the concept of limited government and individual freedom.

The author writes that most people are aware that the role of the Supreme Court is to shape the Constitution. This represents a pro-activist view. Under a strict constructionist reading of the Constitution, the role of the Court is to interpret, not shape the Constitution. The author quotes the first activist, Chief Justice John Marshall, as saying his Court was “expounding” the Constitution. Even Marshall did not claim the right to shape it.

An example used repeatedly in the paper is the Warren Court and its activism. While there can be no doubt of the impact of its decisions on American society, there remains a widely held view that the Warren Court exceeded its Constitutional authority by using its judicial decisions not just to interpret laws, but to make them. Although...

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Uploaded by:   prncssmb

Date:   04/09/2002

Category:   Politics

Length:   11 pages (2,538 words)

Views:   1485

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