Published by McFarland Books.

Rights Reign Supreme:

An Intellectual History of

Judicial Review and

the Supreme Court

by

James M. Masnov

Judicial review, the power of the United States Supreme Court to nullify unconstitutional laws, has been attacked and celebrated by scholars and statesmen alike. It is an awesome power that counters overreach by the legislative and executive branches of government. The Court's authority has become exceedingly significant over the past century as it has grown to occupy a more central role in the lives of the American people. The result has been for politicians of both major political parties (as well as scholars) to decry the antidemocratic nature of the judicial power.

Judicial review is, in fact, essential to the survival of the republic. It does far more than inhibit the power of the other branches, important as that is. The Court’s constitutional authority also acts as an instrument of rights theory, presuming certain principles established during the American founding that assert the primacy of certain inherent rights. Thus the Supreme Court, through its power of judicial review, acts as a steward of the Constitution by protecting the rights of the people against the unconstitutional encroachments of the other branches of government and indeed against the fleeting passions of the people themselves.

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James M. Masnov is a politically independent intellectual historian and author. He is an adjunct professor of history and speaks regularly to both academic and public audiences. He has appeared on nationally-syndicated radio as well as prominent news and commentary podcasts. He also regularly appears on numerous media outlets in the Salem, Oregon region on KSLM, KYKN, and KMUZ. Along with his two books, his work has also been published in both academic and general-readership publications, including Pure Insights, Past Tense, and the Oregon Encyclopedia. He is the founder of History Killers, a history and commentary-related publication on Substack.

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Praise for Rights Reign Supreme:

"It is a remarkably advanced and compelling work of scholarship that treats the history of judicial review from early legal experiments in the eighteenth century, to the transformations occasioned by the Fourteenth Amendment in the nineteenth century, to modern legal and political controversies. Despite its broad chronology and scope, each chapter is remarkably focused and well researched, and engagingly written. May well become a definitive work in the field.”

-Dr. Thomas Luckett, historian and co-author of The Cultural History of Money and Credit: A Global Perspective

“James M. Masnov’s study is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the history of judicial review. His meticulous research into the intellectual history of the principle offers readers a perceptive new way to think about the role of the Supreme Court in American history and life.”

-Dr. Tim Alan Garrison, legal historian and author of The Legal Ideology of Removal: The Southern Judiciary and the Sovereignty of Native American Nations

“James Masnov has placed the controversial and timely subject of Supreme Court judicial review in an historical context that provides life to the contention that Americans should abandon this long-standing practice only after the most serious consideration.”

-Dr. David Horowitz, historian and author of The People’s Voice: A Populist Cultural History of Modern America

“James Masnov has crafted a thoughtful, comprehensive, and important analysis of the theory and practice of judicial review in American history. Grounded in sound research and woven into the existing scholarship, Masnov’s book traces the evolution, development, and solidification of judicial review as a fundamental element of American law. Moreover, Masnov's text is accessible and interesting to a non-specialist audience, and it will be useful for social scientists and humanists practicing outside the field of legal history.”

-Dr. Bob Reinhardt, historian and author of The End of a Global Pox: America and the Eradication of Smallpox in the Cold War Era, and Struggle on the North Santiam: Power and Community on the Margins of the American West

“Masnov situates the practice of judicial review in its intellectual foundations, tracing the relationship between rights and courts over a broad span of history. The book draws on a compelling array of primary documents, historians, political scientists, and legal scholars to offer a more nuanced and grounded understanding of the importance of judicial review within the American tradition. By crossing these disciplinary boundaries, Masnov manages to fill an important gap in our grasp of what judicial review means not only historically, but also to our present conflicts.”

-Dr. Christopher Shortell, political scientist and author of Rights, Remedies, and the Impact of State Sovereign Immunity

Listen to James M. Masnov’s
recent appearances on the
Federalist Radio Hour with Emily Jashinsky and the Lou Perez Podcast.
Available on all prominent podcast platforms.

Thank you to the following podcasts, radio shows, venues, institutions, and individuals for hosting and/or promoting
Rights Reign Supreme on their platforms, channels, and stations as part of the official book release/launch/promotion in recent months:


Emily Jashinsky and the Federalist Radio Hour, Lou Perez (The Lou Perez Podcast), Denise Quinn (host of “Newsmakers” on KYKN), The Lars Larson Show, Fay DeMeyer (host of “Oh, The Humanity” on KYKN), “Willamette Wake-Up” on KMUZ, Dave Duncan (host of “Northwest Tech” on KMUZ), Portland State University History Department, Western Oregon University History Department, Chemeketa Community College, Scott McAleer and
Linn-Benton Community College, The Sippery,
and the Willamette Heritage Center.

Rights Reign Supreme:
An Intellectual History of Judicial Review
and the Supreme Court,
also available at Amazon.

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Watch James M. Masnov discuss Rights Reign Supreme
and his other work on the Lou Perez Podcast.

Also available: History Killers and Other Essays by an Intellectual Historian.

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Copyright James M. Masnov, 2023. All rights reserved.