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The Morality of Consent

The Morality of Consent

Alexander M. Bickel
Copyright Date: 1975
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 166
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  • Book Info
    The Morality of Consent
    Book Description:

    "This short but provocative volume… is a fitting testimony to the author's extraordinary, though tragically brief, career as a constitutional scholar, lawyer and teacher. In just a hundred and a half literate pages, we are treated to vintage Bickel insight into every major political issue of the decade, from the civil rights movement, to the Warren Court, through the frenetic university upheavals, and-inevitably-to Watergate…. A tapestry woven by a master of subtle color and texture."-Alan M. Dershowitz,New York Times Book Review"Presents the core of [Bickel's] legal and political philosophy…. In the five essays that compose this volume Bickel explores the relationship between morality and law, examining the role of the Constitution and Supreme Court in our political process, the nature of citizenship, the First Amendment, civil disobedience, and the moral authority of the intellectual…. All will be stimulated by Bickel's thoughtful message." -Perspective"[Bickel] wrote with astonishing clarity. It takes no legal training to understand his thinking about the law. Nor does it take a willingness to agree with him. All that's required of the reader of this important 'little' book is a concern that rivals Bickel's about the future of American society." -Newsweek"An illuminating, often a moving book, with all of Professor Bickel's rare ability to bring law to life in vivid words."-Anthony LewisAlexander M. Bickel,Sterling Professor of Law at Yale Law School, taught at Yale from 1956 until his death in 1974.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16265-3
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Constitutionalism and the Political Process
    (pp. 1-30)

    Two diverging traditions in the mainstream of Western political thought—one “liberal,” the other “conservative”—have competed, and still compete, for control of the democratic process and of the American constitutional system; both have controlled the direction of our judicial policy at one time or another.

    One of these, the contractarian tradition, began with the moderate common sense of John Locke. It was pursued by Rousseau, and it long ago captured, and substantially retains possession of, the label liberal, although I would contest its title to it. The other tradition can, for lack of a better term, be called Whig...

  5. 2 Citizen or Person? What Is Not Granted Cannot Be Taken Away
    (pp. 31-54)

    In the view both of the ancients and of modern liberal political theorists, the relationship between the individual and the state is largely defined by the concept of citizenship. It is by virtue of his citizenship that the individual is a member of the political community, and by virtue of it that he has rights. Remarkably enough—and as I will suggest, happily—the concept of citizenship plays only the most minimal role in the American constitutional scheme.

    Citizenship, Professor Michael Walzer has written, “itself has become a problem.”¹ I’m not sure what that means and I’m not sure that...

  6. 3 Domesticated Civil Disobedience: The First Amendment, from Sullivan to the Pentagon Papers
    (pp. 55-88)

    The rights which the First Amendment creates cannot be established by any theoretical definition, as Burke said of the rights of man, but are in “balance between differences of good, in compromises sometimes between good and evil, and sometimes between evil and evil.” The computing principle is necessary here, too. The First Amendment is no coherent theory that points our way to unambiguous decisions but a series of compromises and accommodations confronting us again and again with hard questions to which there is no certain answer.

    The First Amendment decisions of the Supreme Court, in part, incorporate a “right to...

  7. 4 Civil Disobedience, Revolution, and the Legal Order
    (pp. 89-124)

    Some time ago, before the magnitude of the scandals of the Nixon administration was perceived, there was some self-serving talk of a commonality of error among the Watergate perpetrators, as the arresting officers might have called them, and the radical Left of the 1960s. Too much zeal, that had been the sin of his people, President Nixon himself suggested in one of his Watergate speeches in the spring of 1973; it was a sin and inexcusable, but also venial. Like the zealots of the Left, his people had put their cause above the law. But they had been led into...

  8. 5 Moral Authority and the Intellectual
    (pp. 125-142)

    Although the furor of the campuses in the late 1960s has been succeeded by peace—at any rate by external peace—the conditions of emergency and crisis still prevail for the university and for the intellectual, even if in ways less obvious than before. It behooves us, therefore, to reexamine the very foundations of our conduct. For they have been questioned, radically and violently. We have been charged with moral neutrality, with gradualism, with betrayal of moral imperatives.

    Now our universities have, by and large with good cause but not without difficulty, been persuaded to the belief that knowledge and...

  9. The Writings of Alexander Mordecai Bickel
    (pp. 143-150)
  10. Index
    (pp. 151-156)