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Neutrality, Legitimacy, and the Supreme Court: Some Intersections Between Law and Political Science, 20 Stanford Law Review 169 (1968)


The work of Professor Martin Shapiro is distinguished by lucidity, an analytical turn of mind, formidable sophistication, and a thoroughly readable style. A political scientist by training, Shapiro is very much at home with the tools and techniques of the lawyer. His flair for case analysis is much in evidence in Law and Politics in the Supreme Court. In the chapters on tax and labor policy, for example, his view of the Court as a political agency furthering its interests through interaction with other agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and the National Labor Relations Board is developed through close readings of decisions and comparisons among groups of cases. Indeed, Shapiro's analysis of the reapportionment controversy demonstrates a regard for lawyers' sensibilities seemingly above and beyond the call of duty-considerably more than half the chapter is devoted to a closely reasoned parsing of the "political question" cases.

Shapiro's regard for "lawyer's law," however, is only apparently excessive. His focus on the interaction among governmental agencies inevitably involves consideration of cases in which the Court paces the boundaries of its own jurisdiction. And as Professor Bickel's work in The Least Dangerous Branch testifies, this judicial mapping of spheres of competence is preeminently "lawyer's law," with compass directions provided in the arcane terminology of "case and controversy," "standing," and "ripeness." Yet it is precisely here that Shapiro breaks decisively with conventional legal approaches.

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