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Beyond All Reason

by Daniel A. Farber Suzanna Sherry

Would you want to be operated on by a surgeon trained at a medical school that did not evaluate its students? Would you want to fly in a plane designed by people convinced that the laws of physics are socially constructed? Would you want to be tried by a legal system indifferent to the distinction between fact and fiction? These questions may seem absurd, but these are theories being seriously advanced by radical multiculturalists that force us to ask them. These scholars assert that such concepts as truth and merit are inextricably racist and sexist, that reason and objectivity are merely sophisticated masks for ideological bias, and that reality itself is nothing more than a socially constructed mechanism for preserving the power of the ruling elite. In Beyond All Reason, liberal legal scholars Daniel A. Farber and Suzanna Sherry mount the first systematic critique of radical multiculturalism as a form of legal scholarship. Beginning with an incisive overview of the origins and basic tenets of radical multiculturalism, the authors critically examine the work of Derrick Bell, Catherine MacKinnon, Patricia Williams, and Richard Delgado, and explore the alarming implications of their theories. Farber and Sherry push these theories to their logical conclusions and show that radical multiculturalism is destructive of the very goals it wishes to affirm. If, for example, the concept of advancement based on merit is fraudulent, as the multiculturalists claim, the disproportionate success of Jews and Asians in our culture becomes difficult to explain without opening the door to age-old anti-Semitic and racist stereotypes. If historical and scientific truths are entirely relative social constructs, then Holocaust denial becomes merely a matter of perspective, and Creationism has as much "validity" as evolution. The authors go on to show that rather than promoting more dialogue, the radical multiculturalist preferences for legal storytelling and identity politics over reasoned argument produces an insular set of positions that resist open debate. Indeed, radical multiculturalists cannot critically examine each others' ideas without incurring vehement accusations of racism and sexism, much less engage in fruitful discussion with a mainstream that does not share their assumptions. Here again, Farber and Sherry show that the end result of such thinking is not freedom but a kind of totalitarianism where dissent cannot be tolerated and only the naked will to power remains to settle differences. Sharply written and brilliantly argued, this book is itself a model of the kind of clarity, civility, and dispassionate critical thinking which the authors seek to preserve from the attacks of the radical multiculturalists. With far-reaching implications for such issues as government control of hate speech and pornography, affirmative action, legal reform, and the fate of all minorities, Beyond All Reason is a provocative contribution to one of the most important controversies of our time.

Desperately Seeking Certainty: The Misguided Quest For Constitutitonal Foundations

by Daniel A. Farber Suzanna Sherry

Irreverent, provocative, and engaging, Desperately Seeking Certainty attacks the current legal vogue for grand unified theories of constitutional interpretation. On both the Right and the Left, prominent legal scholars are attempting to build all of constitutional law from a single foundational idea. Dan Farber and Suzanna Sherry find that in the end no single, all-encompassing theory can successfully guide judges or provide definitive or even sensible answers to every constitutional question. Their book brilliantly reveals how problematic foundationalism is and shows how the pragmatic, multifaceted common law methods already used by the Court provide a far better means of reaching sound decisions and controlling judicial discretion than do any of the grand theories.

Retained by the People: The "Silent" Ninth Amendment and the Constitutional Rights Americans Don't Know They Have

by Daniel A. Farber

The Ninth Amendment lurks like an unexploded mine within the Bill of Rights. Its wording is direct: "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. " However, there is not a single Supreme Court decision based on it. Even the famously ambitious Warren Court preferred to rely on the weaker support of the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause for many of its decisions on individual rights. Since that era, mainstream conservatives have grown actively hostile to the very mention of the Ninth Amendment. Daniel Farber, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, makes an informed and lucid argument for employing the Ninth Amendment in support of a large variety of rights whose constitutional basis is now shaky. The case he makes for the application of this unused amendment has profound implications in almost every aspect of our daily lives.

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