Judicial Activism, Enlightenment Rationalism, and Political Intolerance
Robert F. Nagel, Ira C. Rothgerber, Jr. Professor Emeritus of Constitional Law, University of Colorado School of Law
Despite decades of numerical domination by conservative appointees, the Supreme Court continues to practice an aggressive form of judicial activism. This can be traced in part to the current intellectual dominance of Enlightenment rationalism. This dominance has helped to produce not only a distorted understanding of American cultural traditions but also the political extremism and intolerance so evident today.
Robert F. Nagel is Ira C. Rothgerber, Jr. Professor Emeritus of Constitutional Law at the University of Colorado School of Law, where he has been on the faculty since 1975. He was Deputy Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 1972-75. He has held visiting appointments at Cornell University, University of Michigan, College of William & Mary, Duke University, and the University of San Diego, and was the fall 2016 Ann and Herbert W. Vaughan Visiting Fellow at the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is author of Constitutional Cultures: The Mentality and Consequences of Judicial Review (California, 1989), Judicial Power and American Character: Censoring Ourselves in an Anxious Age (Oxford, 1994), The Implosion of American Federalism (Oxford, 2001), and Unrestrained: Judicial Excess and the Mind of the American Lawyer (Transaction, 2008). He is Editor of Intellect and Craft: The Contributions of Justice Hans Linde to American Constitutionalism (Westview, 1995). He has published many articles in professional journals as well in general circulation periodicals. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Professor Nagel holds degrees from Swarthmore College and Yale Law School.