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The Stealth Revolution, Continued

Bruce Ackerman: Samuel Alito and the Supreme Court, 9 February 2006

... originalists like Antonin Scalia and Robert Bork. Instead, he took the path described in my previous essay,* and tendered stealth nominees whose public records provided few clues as to future performance. Not that this administration was equally in the dark. During the 1980s, both John Roberts and Samuel Alito were bright young recruits to the Reagan ...

At the Crossroads

Bruce Ackerman: Electoral Reform, 9 September 2010

... I haven’t the slightest idea – and neither do you. Our collective uncertainty demonstrates my point: the British constitution is at a crossroads. Parliament should be mindful of this as it moves to turn Clegg’s Alternative Vote initiative into binding legislation. Consider the government’s plan to schedule the poll on 5 May 2011, the day of the ...

Who now cares about Malinowski?

Robert Ackerman, 23 May 1996

After Tylor: British Social Anthropology 1888-1951 
by George Stocking.
Athlone, 570 pp., £50, January 1996, 0 485 30072 9
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... at Columbia University to spend a year at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton: my project was a biography of J.G. Frazer. At Columbia I had written a dissertation on the literary-critical legacy of the ‘Cambridge Ritualists’ (Jane Ellen Harrison, F.M. Cornford, Gilbert Murray and A.B. Cook, turn-of-the-century classicists who had ...

Don’t Panic

Bruce Ackerman: States of Emergency, 7 February 2002

... imagination as well. Defenders of freedom can be found on both the right and the left. As my sunset story suggests, the challenge is to organise a left-right coalition against the friends of authority. Stranger things have happened in politics, and for less noble causes. Europe is already influencing this political dynamic. The Spanish Government’s ...

Meritocracy v. Democracy

Bruce Ackerman: What to do about the Lords, 8 March 2007

... house to the point where it can no longer raise a remotely plausible challenge to the Commons. My only question is whether its solution manages to throw out the baby with the bathwater in restricting elected members to a single 15-year term. Given the low quality of the members likely to be elected under these ground rules, it seems wiser to build on the ...

Anatomy of a Constitutional Coup

Bruce Ackerman: The 2000 US Election, 8 February 2001

... should have happened at this point, and some form of creative compromise would have been required. My best guess is that Congress would have followed precedent and created an electoral commission with five senators, five congressmen and five Supreme Court justices. The five judges might well have cast the deciding votes, but they would have been acting in a ...

The Art of Stealth

Bruce Ackerman: The Supreme Court under Threat, 17 February 2005

... of personal attack. Whether Anita Hill or Clarence Thomas was telling the truth isn’t relevant. My point is different: Bush’s stealth strategy was failing to solve the Bork problem. Rather than paving a smooth path to the court, it was causing an escalating spiral of partisan warfare and personal attack. Thomas won by a vote of 52 to 48, but the entire ...

Quibbling, Wrangling

Jeremy Waldron: How to draft a constitution, 12 September 2019

Revolutionary Constitutions: Charismatic Leadership and the Rule of Law 
by Bruce Ackerman.
Harvard, 457 pp., £25.95, May 2019, 978 0 674 97068 7
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... between the main protagonists there was little or no consensus on constitutional principles. Bruce Ackerman says that the events he describes in his new book do ‘not support the now standard view of South Africa as a paradigmatic case of “negotiated transition” in which elites managed the tricky business of change through enlightened collaboration’. I ...

House of Frazer

J.W. Burrow, 31 March 1988

J.G. Frazer: His Life and Work 
by Robert Ackerman.
Cambridge, 348 pp., £35, December 1987, 0 521 34093 4
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... seems like a copious burial hoard among which – somewhere – Frazer himself unobtrusively lies. Mr Ackerman has set himself the task of excavation. The site is relatively untouched; the only book-length study of Frazer, by R. Angus Downie, was, as Ackerman says, hagiography, written under the eye of Lady Frazer ...


Richard Tuck, 16 July 1981

Social Justice in the Liberal State 
by Bruce Ackerman.
Yale, 392 pp., £11, October 1980, 0 300 02439 8
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Justice and Liberty 
by David Raphael.
Athlone, 192 pp., £13, November 1980, 0 485 11195 0
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... it has proved for them fully to disentangle themselves from the old ways of thinking. Bruce Ackerman’s Social Justice in the Liberal State is the latest work to consider these matters. It is distinguished by two features: one is its unusual heuristic device of what he calls ‘dialogic’ method, and the other is the seriousness with which it takes ...

Guantanamo Bay

Martin Puchner: A state of exception, 16 December 2004

... a scenario in which the law might be suspended. The chief supporter of such a provision is Bruce Ackerman who teaches at Yale (and is an LRB contributor). According to Ackerman, who is associated with the left, it should be specified in the constitution exactly when and how it can be suspended precisely so that it need not ...

Give me the man

Stephen Holmes: The pursuit of Clinton, 18 March 1999

Sexual McCarthyism: Clinton, Starr and the Emerging Constitutional Crisis 
by Alan Dershowitz.
Basic Books, 275 pp., £15.95, January 1999, 0 465 01628 6
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The Case against Lameduck Impeachment 
by Bruce Ackerman.
Seven Stories, 80 pp., $8, February 1999, 1 58322 004 6
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... professor of criminal law, Alan Dershowitz, and the Yale professor of constitutional law, Bruce Ackerman, are two of the country’s most renowned teachers. So while issuing what are essentially interim reports from the battlefront, they together provide a comprehensive overview of the potential consequences for the rule of law of this politically concocted ...

Against Whales

Paul Keegan, 20 July 1995

The Moon by Whale Light 
by Diane Ackerman.
Phoenix, 260 pp., £6.99, May 1994, 1 85799 087 0
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The Last Panda 
by George Schaller.
Chicago, 292 pp., $13.95, May 1993, 0 226 73629 6
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The Great Ape Project 
edited by Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer.
Fourth Estate, 312 pp., £9.99, June 1993, 1 85702 126 6
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... there has been a hybridising of science writers, nature journalists, writer-scientists. Diane Ackerman and George Schaller are representative of either end of an increasingly blurred spectrum. The lengthy reports gathered in The Moon by Whale Light (‘and Other Adventures among Bats, Penguins, Crocodilians and Whales’) were written for the New ...


Jonathan Coe, 12 July 1990

Hopeful Monsters 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 551 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 436 28854 0
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... straightforward way of unloading it onto the reader. In tracing the love affair of Max Ackerman (previously referred to as ‘the Professor’) and Eleanor Anders (often identified in the earlier novels by her pudding-basin haircut) it manages to take in most of the scientific and political highlights of the Twenties and Thirties: unrest in ...

A Mere Piece of Furniture

Dinah Birch: Jacqueline Rose’s take on Proust, 7 February 2002

by Jacqueline Rose.
Chatto, 205 pp., £14.99, October 2001, 0 7011 6976 1
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... or the Gertrude she becomes, speaks with the unmistakable accents of 20th-century feminism: ‘My father and future husband bargained me away, and you have given me back my essential value.’ Gertrude’s value is what Updike wants to affirm. If ...

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