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Professor Bickel, the Scholarly Tradition, and the Supreme Court

J. Skelly Wright
Harvard Law Review
Vol. 84, No. 4 (Feb., 1971), pp. 769-805
DOI: 10.2307/1339777
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1339777
Page Count: 37
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Professor Bickel, the Scholarly Tradition, and the Supreme Court
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Abstract

Although the event occurred a scant year and a half ago, it has already become apparent to many legal commentators that Alexander Bickel's Holmes Lectures of 1969 represented a major turning point in the development of the scholarly tradition. To be sure, Bickel merely followed his professorial brethren in attacking technical flaws in the reasoning of the Warren Court. But he also went far beyond most of them by taking issue with the underlying goals of the Court. In this article, Judge Wright explores the premises upon which the Bickel approach is based and finds them sadly wanting in a society where fundamental human rights are constantly under challenge. Rejecting Bickel's claim to "value neutrality," he shows that most scholarly criticism is firmly rooted in a conservative tradition that has long been insensitive to the legitimate claims of the powerless. In so doing, the author reveals his own judicial philosophy and outlines an approach which reconciles the need for an active judiciary with the demands of majority rule.

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