A Distinct Judicial Power
The Origins of an Independent Judiciary, 1606-1787
Scott Douglas Gerber
Reviews and Awards
"A deeply researched study of a much neglected subject - the origins of an independent judiciary."
--Gordon S. Wood, Alva O. Way University Professor Emeritus and Professor of History Emeritus, Brown University
"Today we think of the independent judiciary as one of the safeguards of a free society. But its origins are complex and often ill-understood. Scott Gerber does a great public service by tying together all the loose strands on this issue, from ancient times through the end of the colonial period. Historians, constitutional scholars, and the public at large will profit by reading this thoroughly researched and clearly presented book."
--Richard A. Epstein
Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
"Though judicial independence is usually regarded to be a good thing, it is not at all clear why political leaders would necessarily support its emergence or, afterward, accept controversial displays of such independence. Its emergence must be explained rather than taken for granted. To achieve this objective, Scott Douglas Gerber provides fascinating analyses that reveal the different paths taken toward judicial independence in the various American colonies (and future states) prior to the American Revolution and drafting of the Constitution. This book will interest any student of American legal institutions."
--Sanford V. Levinson, W. St. John Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair and Professor of Law and Government, University of Texas at Austin
"This is a delightful book...anyone doing research on early American constitutionalism will
undoubtedly be directed to this book, for both content and argument."
--Walter F. Pratt, University of South Carolina
The Journal of American History
"A book that provides all of this knowledge and analysis has never appeared before in one volume. Thus the publication of Scott Gerber's book is very much a landmark. It should be on the bookshelves of political scientists around the world."
-- International Judicial Monitor
"A valuable and elegant book. If you are interested in the development of judicial independence, read this book."
-- Jery Payne, The Colorado Lawyer and Colorado Bar Association
"Beginning with a review of the intellectual history of judicial independence from Aristotle to John Adams, Gerber thoroughly chronicles the rise of protojudicial independence in the original thirteen colonies' foundational texts and practices. Gerber persuasively describes the colonies as lurching toward judicial independence slowly and unevenly, yet steadily."
-- Harvard Law Review
"Gerber's book is by far the most comprehensive examination of the manner by which colonial and state constitutions contributed to the federal Constitution. His study not only highlights the legacy of the aforementioned area to the creation of Article III of the Constitution, but renews interest in the contribution of John Adams to the development of the courts and opens new ground about the relationship between judicial review and judicial independence."
-- Samuel B. Hoff, Department of History, Political Science and Philosophy, Delaware State University, Law and Politics Book Review
"A valuable summary of the development of local judicial institutions that provides a welcome resource for students of the colonial and Revolutionary eras."
-- Edward A. Purcell, Jr., Tulsa Law Review
"There is much to praise in A Distinct Judicial Power. Tracing the history of a separate judicial branch as it developed in America is an important task in itself. Bringing together the experience of every one of the thirteen colonies in the development of its judiciary is a boon to us all."
--Joyce Lee Macolm, George Mason University School of Law
"Professor Gerber has authored a timely and thorough treatise on judicial review that traces the concept through 3,000 years of political thought. He also has provided an in-depth historical analysis on this country's struggles to create an independent judiciary founded on a compensation and tenure structure not subject to political whim."
--Gerald Rafferty, Colorado Lawyer
"A Distinct Judicial Power now takes its place as the most comprehensive review available of American colonial and early republican constitutional development in all of the original thirteen polities. The politics, jurisprudence, and legislation of each of these nascent states on the eastern seaboard is explored in more comprehensive a manner than anyone has ever done, and there is a wealth of historical materials never before brought together under one cover. This will now become the indispensable reference for anyone seeking to understand early American conceptions of the judiciary and the rule of law."
--Stephen B. Presser, Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History, Northwestern University School of Law, Ohio Northern University Law Review
"The massive scholarly effort required to complete the long sought history of the emergence of judicial independence in the United States has dissuaded many from the attempt, which makes Scott Douglas Gerber's A Distinct Judicial Power: The Origins of an Independent Judiciary, 1606-1787 all the more commendable and a remarkable scholarly achievement."
--Charles A. Kromkowski, Department of Politics, University of Virginia, Ohio Northern University Law Review