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The Most Activist Supreme Court in HistoryThe Road to Modern Judicial Conservatism$
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Thomas M. Keck

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780226428840

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226428864.001.0001

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Activism and Restraint on the Rehnquist Court

Activism and Restraint on the Rehnquist Court

(p.199) Chapter Six Activism and Restraint on the Rehnquist Court
The Most Activist Supreme Court in History
University of Chicago Press

The Rehnquist Court has not read its own power as narrowly as conservatives have urged, and in a wide range of other cases, either O'Connor or Kennedy (or sometimes both) have gone even further in abandoning their conservative colleagues, even in the school desegregation and prisoners' rights cases. Unlike their fellow conservative justices, O'Connor and Kennedy continue to believe that the protection of relatively powerless minority groups against majoritarian discrimination is one of the Court's most important duties. Although the public face of the Rehnquist Court has been that of a five-justice conservative majority, these justices have proven every bit as divided as were Harlan and Black during the Warren years. Justices O'Connor and Kennedy have followed a version of Harlan's “reasoned judgment,” but unlike their predecessor, they have placed no areas of law and policy off limits to judicial action.

Keywords:   Rehnquist Court, O'Connor, Kennedy, conservative justices, school desegregation

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