First published in 1992. A Theory of Liberty seeks to change the way we think about the American constitution. The focus of the book is the legal status of minority groups in the United States a topic at the top of the current political agenda. Arguing that minority rights were vitally important to the founding fathers, H. N. Hirsch presents an original and provocative look at issues such as affirmative action, abortion, and the rights of children, lesbians and gay men, mental patients, and the physically disabled.
In an analysis which blends history, philosophy, law, and social science, Hirsch attacks both liberals who hide from history and conservatives who push for "original intent." He argues that we can remain faithful to the most basic intent of the founding fathers without losing our ability to reinterpret the Constitution against the backdrop of contemporary social "facts." Hirsch exposes the errors and hypocrisy of the current Supreme Court majority, and argues that the Constitution’s liberty can and should be interpreted to protect the rights of minority groups.
Timely and controversial, this title offers a challenging look at some of America’s most basic ideological commitments, and will appeal to anyone concerned with the current state of American law or the treatment of minority groups.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments; 1. Introduction: Liberal Jurisprudence, History, and Political Science 2. Liberty: The Black Box 3. Police Powers, Neutral Principles, and Constitutional Change 4. "The Most Wilful Blindness": The Supreme Court and Social Facts 5. Democracy, Empathy, and Suspect Classes 6. The Threnody of Liberalism: Liberty and Community; Index; Index of Cases