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Professor Harry Jones's elegant and stimulating Waterman lectures begin on a salutary note. Professor Jones rightly reminds us that, first and foremost, a constitution is not exclusively or primarily a limitation on the exercise of political power, but rather is a charter for its exercise. Accordingly, to view the Constitution as "all brakes and no engine" suggests a serious and fundamental myopia, albeit an understandable one given the popular preoccupation with the Supreme Court's role in vindicating guarantees of civil liberty. But that preoccupation, Professor Jones notes, does more than distort the meaning of the Constitution; it ignores an historically important aspect of the role of the Supreme Court and of the lower federal courts. These courts "were brought into the picture initially as part of ... the engine" of federalism to secure effective enforcement of federal law. Professor Jones thus insightfully links the creation of the lower federal courts with the Supreme Court's appellate jurisdiction over the state courts; both serve as institutional safeguards for the broad policies expressed in the supremacy clause.


Constitutional Law | Law