Barry Friedman, Author of The Will of The People
The Will of the People
Praise

The New York Times Book Review calls The Will of the People a “thought-provoking and authoritative history of the Supreme Court’s relationship to popular opinion.”  “Friedman’s contribution to this discussion is the breadth and detail of his historical canvas, and it’s a significant one.”
Emily Bazelon, The New York Times Book Review Read the review

“We think of the Supreme Court’s constitutional decisions as lofty, lonely, unchallengeable. But in truth they are part of a dialogue with public opinion and political leadership—and in the long run the Court does not stray far from the public. That is the convincing conclusion of Barry Friedman’s stunning, fascinating history.” 
—Anthony Lewis, author of Gideon’s Trumpet
 

“I am just now reading an advance copy of professor Barry Friedman's fantastic new book, The Will of the People: How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the  Constitution. . . . In it, Friedman argues that the American public has a lot more control over the courts than we think we do—that the justices don't actually stray all that far from public opinion. That's quite a notion: Despite the rumors of lofty out-of-touch-ness, the high court is in conversation with the public all the time.”
—Dahlia Lithwick, Slate

“Deeply informed by history and political science, The Will of the People offers a fresh and insightful look at the most profound problem in American constitutional thought: how and whether the Supreme Court may thwart the will of a democratic majority. With elegance, clarity, and patience, Friedman tells the story of how the Court has gauged public opinion: now giving in to its power, now shaping it, and even occasionally standing up to it. No one who cares about the development of the Supreme Court—or the Constitution—should miss this book.”
—Noah Feldman, Bemis Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, and author of Divided by God andAfter Jihad

“In this beautifully written and extensively researched study, Barry Friedman explodes the common myth that the Supreme Court regularly thwarts the will of national majorities. The next time you hear a politician or pundit blather on about an out-of-control judiciary, tell them to stop pontificating until they have read this remarkable book.” 
—Jack M. Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment, Yale Law School


“Since its inception, the United States Supreme Court has had to walk the delicate line between a respect for majority will and a protection of minority rights. Barry Friedman gathers wide-ranging evidence, much from surprising sources, to support the proposition that the court rarely strays too far from public opinion in the exercise of the power of judicial review, and we are better for it. All readers will profit mightily from this learned book, whether or not they buy into Friedman’s arresting thesis.”
—Richard Epstein, James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and Visiting Professor at New York University

“Rather than a cloistered priesthood interpreting a sacred text, the Supreme Court is a canny group of political operators, argues this fascinating revisionist constitutional history. NYU law prof Friedman lucidly chronicles the Court's fraught relationship with presidents, Congress and the states, who have defied, threatened and rejiggered the Court when its rulings offended them. The Court has nonetheless made itself felt, Friedman argues, by cultivating powerful constituencies and aligning with prevailing winds: it became the handmaiden of Progressive-era industrialists and now reliably (and for the good, Friedman thinks) locates the moderate consensus on vexed issues like abortion and gay rights. Friedman offers a fresh, dynamic rethinking of the role of the Constitution and the Court that puts democratic politics at the center of the story.”
Publishers Weekly 

“Friedman . . .  offers an exhaustively researched book on the effect of public opinion on the Supreme Court from the Revolutionary period up to the end of the Rehnquist Court. Each section of the book covers a period of the Court's history. . . .  VERDICT Serious and academic in tone, this book tackles a complex subject. Readers looking for a straightforward history of the Supreme Court should look elsewhere, but Supreme Court watchers, those interested in law, and students of law and political science will enjoy this book.”
Library Journal

"[I]n the tradition of scholars such as Robert Dahl, Robert McCloskey, and Gerald Rosenberg.  What The Will of the People nicely adds is a rich historical analysis over more than two centuries of Supreme Court history.  Best yet, the book is well written and engaging, with a wealth of historical detial on the Court's liveliest controversies, personalities, and political ups and downs." Judicature

"Barry Friedman’s The Will of the People is an ambitious book. Examining, as per its subtitle, How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution, it covers our entire constitutional history, interweaving public reactions that have shaped it for better or worse. It is a tall order, well met."
The Federal Lawyer, February issue

"Barry Friedman’s The Will of the People, is a terrific account of the interplay between public opinion and the Supreme Court.  The heart of the argument focuses on the Supreme Court’s doctrinal about-face in response to Franklin Roosevelt’s court packing plan.  The standard explanation treats the Court’s doctrinal shift as an embarrassing anomaly.  Generations of constitutional law teachers have told their students that Supreme Court decision-making is driven by the law, not public pressure, except, as occurred in the 1930s, in highly unusual circumstances.  The Court, it is said, is designed to withstand the buffeting of popular winds."
Concurring Opions Read the review