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Publisher's Summary

First published in September 2005 and based on a series of lectures delivered at Harvard, Active Liberty is a tight, extremely readable, almost memoir-like guide to interpreting the Constitution. Written by a justice of the Supreme Court, it focuses on a pragmatic approach to this great document that may become crucial as the Supreme Court faces deeply divisive decisions.
©2005 Stephen Breyer (P)2006 Recorded Books, LLC.

Critic Reviews

"Breyer's prose is admirably simple and clear, and his discussion shows a keen legal intellect that espouses broad values rather than narrow theories, and a deep, humane concern with fostering democracy and the well-being of the citizenry. This will be essential reading at a possibly watershed moment for the Supreme Court." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Maki
  • New York, NY, USA
  • 09-04-07

Engaging, If Somewhat Dense

Maybe if you're a constituional scholar or lawyer, this stuff is easy to follow, but for a lay person, it wasn't quite as easy to digest. Still, I very much looked forward to hearing this book read by Justice Breyer himself, and I found his philosophies and justifications quite sound and very convincing. I will probably have to re-read this book several times to get every aspect of it, but I found the exercise very challenging and worthwhile.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Propose, not Prose

This is an examination of Justice Steven Breyer’s theory of Constitutional interpretation. In short, Breyer stresses the importance of legal analysis focusing on the drafter’s intent and practical goals, rather than an overemphasis on the plain text alone. He does this bearing in mind the importance of “active liberty,” an ancient concept meant to encourage civic participation by the public at large.

A word of warning: This is book was written for an audience already comfortable with more advanced aspects of legal theory, not the general public. Because of that, I would certainly recommend it for attorneys or for someone interested in advanced Constitutional Law. If that sounds like you, there is a wealth of knowledge contained in here. Go for it!

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Maggie
  • Baton Rouge, LA, United States
  • 12-24-10

excellent and worth the time

since i have no legal training, i too found breyer's ideas densely presented but still could detect the value of this audio, which is like having a very smart legal scholar spend time telling me what he thinks. with several listens, i will know far more than i did before and have spent my time well. i greatly appreciate breyer's efforts of forming up his thoughts and then presenting them in his own voice. his ideas help me to re-invest in hope that "truth will out" ... an excellent antidote to the "nattering nabobs of negativism" that stream from today's media.