Here is another new book that addresses the impact of culture on law, The Judiciary’s Class War (Encounter Books), by University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds. As I wrote in Monday’s post, cultural values profoundly American influence church-state law. Reynolds, who also hosts the InstaPundit blog, points out that it’s really educated-upper-middle-class cultural values that matter–the values that judges, who come from the upper echelon of the legal profession, see as natural and inarguable. Reynolds’s theory seems quite plausible to anyone who has studied American constitutional law, including the Court’s religion-clause jurisprudence. The book looks very interesting. Here’s the description from the publisher’s website:

The terms “Front-Row Kids” and “Back-Row Kids,” coined by the photographer Chris Arnade, describe the divide between the educated upper middle class, who are staying ahead in today’s economy, and the less educated working class, who are doing poorly. The differences in education—and the values associated with elite schooling—have produced a divide in America that is on a par with that of race.

The judiciary, requiring a postgraduate degree, is the one branch of government that is reserved for the Front-Row Kids. Correspondingly, since the Warren era, the Supreme Court has basically served as an engine for vindicating Front-Row preferences, from allowing birth control and abortion, to marginalizing religion in the public space, to legislative apportionment and libel law, and beyond. Professor Glenn Reynolds describes this problem in detail and offers some suggestions for making things better.

Leave a Reply