Dr. Kerry L. Hunter is Professor at Albertson College of Idaho where he teaches political philosophy and constitutional law. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Washington. Dr. Hunter is the author of The Reign of Fantasy: The Political Roots of Reagan’s Star War Policy (Peter Lang, 1992).
2006 0-7734-5843-3 This study examines the irreconcilable demands of American contradicting political mythology and how this dynamic is played out in the arena of constitutional law and the U.S. Supreme Court. Unlike those who argue that America suffers from the paradoxical contradictions in its ideas (see, for example, H. Mark Roelofs, The Poverty of American Politics), this book suggests that the very strength of American political idealism lies in its contradictions, and that the Supreme Court’s essential role is the preservation of those contradicting ideals. In early chapters, classic liberal demands and contradictions as well as republican ideals are examined. The author argues that healthy liberalism is dependent upon a healthy republican ideal. The author further demonstrates that dominant judicial philosophies from the right and left are all inadequate due to their failure to comprehend the Court’s mythical responsibilities. In the final chapter, Roe v. Wade and Bush v. Gore are shown as examples where the Court failed. By refusing to take their mythological responsibilities seriously, the Court’s opinions in these cases appear to rest on blatant power politics. It is as if the members of the Court blatantly replaced their mythical priestly robes with the hats of highly suspect politicians. A brief examination of Brown v. Board of Education reveals a Court meeting its obligation by carefully staying in the realm of myth as it cautiously resolved the case. The author further argues that the nation would be well served if justices on the Court would pursue this most important political responsibility when exercising judicial review and that conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, all have a vital interest in encouraging justices on the Court to accept this responsibility. The author suggests that conflicting idealism is essential to freedom as it checks powerful political agendas from the right and the left, and demonstrates that the Supreme Court is uniquely positioned to promote this idealism. History has shown that a single unifying political philosophy, which makes it easy to run rough-shod over all who stand in its way, it not always desirable. The strength of American idealism is that it refuses to grant full legitimacy to virtually any government initiative.