I just finished reading Mark Levin’s book Men in Black
It’s a book primarilly written for those not very familiar with legal history, or should I say major cases in American legal history.
Those who are more familiar with many of the better known cases (e.g. Marbery v. Madison, Roe, Bakke, Plessy, Korimatsu) will find a lot of the material which Levin covers to be somewhat repitious and unsuprising. However, Levin also introduces some significant, yet not as well known cases throughout the book.
Levin uses numerous examples from cases to put forward his argument against the philosophy of judicial activism, and does so somewhat convincingly. Levin chose the cases he uses for his argument wisely, drawing on many decisions, some that that even to the non-legal mind are simply perplexing in how they were reached.
One thing Levin could be faulted for, is a failure to provide a stronger argument in support of the philosophy of judicial restraint at the start of his text, before he begins to take swipes at Judicial activism. Levin may also want to bring up/discuss the philosophy of judicial self-restraint as well–as it seems like such a discussion would also be fitting in the context of his work.
To those who follow politics, some of the material will also be very familiar. Such topics include cases which have been decided within the past two years, to the controvery with that especially on what’s going on right now with some of the President’s judicial nominees in the Senate. Though Levin’s citing (and presentation in the appendix) of the memos circulated amongst Democrats on the Sen. Judiciary Cmte. and some of the far left special interest groups may be new material to some and can be rather damning.
I found Levin’s chapter on Bush v. Gore to also be of interest. I didn’t follow all the goings on of the case back in 2000, and to this day, I don’t quite grasp everything which transpired/took place. Levin provides a nice summary and account of some of the goings on in the aftermath of the Florida Election, and the legal opinions which followed. This chapter is one in which I think Levin could have benefitted by discussing the idea of judicial self-restraint more as he touches on it, but he could have really expanded on it. In as much as I respect Levin and enjoy his show, I’m still somewhat skeptical of taking his account of the 2000 election mele as the exact history of what happened, mainly because I feel like I need to read more sources before coming to such a conclusion.
Overall, the book is an enlightening read. You could definitely say that it “preaches to the choir” on one level, but Levin also puts forth pursuasive arguments which could perhaps sway some opinions.
His writing style and attitude does not mirror the “New Yorker” style that he has on his radio show. For those not familiar with Levin’s radio program, let me share the following quote from memory. When asked a the Book Revue book signing “Why don’t you take your show nationally”, Mark simply replied “I’m a New Yorker, and I don’t think my style would be appreciated in the rest of the country”.
In the book, Levin is a lot more civil-natured and presents his case in a scholarly manner, without being too cerebral–thus making it good for a general audience.