Judge John Noonan has astutely chronicled law and society over a half century. He was a professor for twenty-five years, authoring such classics as Persons and Masks of the Law, and has rendered distinguished service since 1985 on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.Thus, the publication of Narrowing the Nation's Power: The Supreme Court Sides with the States ("Narrowing') would be important, even if the monograph were only a venerated scholar's reflections on his long, rich experience. This book, however, is a provocative critique that meticulously and incisively exposes the Court's new federalism and separation of powers jurisprudence as radical departures from settled understandings, departures that lack constitutional support. Noonan has issued a powerful, timely indictment of Supreme Court decisionmaking, which is striking because his position in the judicial hierarchy requires a keen understanding of those cases and because some observers may have thought him sympathetic to the Justices' dramatic new path. These ideas mean that Narrowing warrants analysis. This Review first descriptively examines the volume and finds that Noonan illuminates comprehension of this recent, novel turn in Supreme Court jurisprudence. The Review then explores the work's numerous beneficial features. It concludes with several recommendations for future work in this area.

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date