The Morality of Consent

– Yale University Press, 1975.
Winner of the 1976 Silver Gavel Award of the American Bar Association Chosen as one of the Notable Books of 1975 by the American Library Association “This short but provocative volume . . . is a fitting testimony to the author’s extraordinary, though… More

The Caseload of the Supreme Court, and What, if Anything, to Do about It

– American Enterprise Institute Press, 1973.
“In this study, [Bickel] centers on the recommendations of the Study Group for a National Court of Appeals to screen cases headed for the Supreme Court and to resolve certain conflicts among federal courts if appeals. He outlines the major criticisms of… More

The Supreme Court and the Idea of Progress

– Yale University Press, 1970.
“Timeless questions about the role of the Supreme Court in the American political and legal system are raised in the late Alexander Bickel’s characteristically astute analysis of the work of the Warren Court. He takes issue with the Court’s view… More

Politics and the Warren Court

– Joanna Cotler Books, 1965.
“For all of the current attacks on the Supreme Court, no sensible critic would argue with the view that our Constitution and courts are basically sound. The crucial issue is whether their functions are to be circumscribed by notions of symmetry derived… More

The Least Dangerous Branch: The Supreme Court at the Bar of Politics

– Yale University Press, 1963.
“This classic book on the role of the United States Supreme Court traces the history of the Court, assessing the merits of various decisions along the way. Alexander Bickel begins with Marbury v. Madison, which he says give shaky support to judicial… More

The Unpublished Opinions of Mr. Justice Brandeis

– Harvard University Press, 1957.
“The present volume makes it possible to understand, better than was ever before possible, the forces and methods within the Court that produce the decisions which make law for all of us.” -Frederick Bernays Wiener, New Republic (October 7, 1957)


[in chronological order]

The Passive Virtue as Means, Not Ends

– Stephen I. Vladeck, "Online Alexander Bickel Symposium," SCOTUSblog (August 21, 2012).
Excerpt: The summer after the Supreme Court’s 2011 Term seems a strange moment to reflect upon Alexander Bickel’s The Least Dangerous Branch – and his Harvard Law Review foreword on the “passive virtues” that preceded it. After all, “passive”… More

Learning about the Supreme Court

– Barry Friedman, "Online Alexander Bickel Symposium," SCOTUSblog (August 20, 2012).
Excerpt: What enduring value does Alexander Bickel’s now-classic The Least Dangerous Branch have today? In what ways does it or should it speak to us? One is tempted to answer: Virtually not at all. The Least Dangerous Branch was a profoundly conflicted… More

Alexander Bickel Has Left the Building

– Sanford Levinson, "Online Alexander Bickel Symposium," SCOTUSblog (August 20, 2012).
Excerpt: This is the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Alexander Bickel’s The Least Dangerous Branch, by any measure one of the most influential books on constitutional theory published since World War II. Bickel died extremely prematurely, but… More

How I Spent My Summer of 1961

– Sanford Jay Rosen, "Online Alexander Bickel Symposium," SCOTUSblog (August 17, 2012).
Excerpt: It is trite but true to say “you had to be there” to understand what was going on in 1962 when The Least Dangerous Branch (“TLDB”) was first published. Overt race, gender, disability, and age discrimination and homophobia were rife in… More

An Affectionate, but Contrarian, Remembrance

– Richard A. Epstein, "Online Alexander Bickel Symposium," SCOTUSblog (August 17, 2012).
Excerpt: There is little question that The Least Dangerous Branch counts as one of the most important books in constitutional law scholarship ever. Written some fifty years ago, it should not be understood, however, as a timeless constitutional doctrine, but… More

Bickel and Bork beyond the Academy

– Roger Pilon, "Online Alexander Bickel Symposium," SCOTUSblog (August 16, 2012).
Excerpt: A spirited debate over judicial review was unfolding in the legal academy when Alexander Bickel’s The Least Dangerous Branch appeared in 1962. Often abstract, arid, and abstruse, the cottage industry that followed will likely be the focus of… More

“It’s Alexander Bickel’s Fault”

– Erwin Chemerinsky, "Online Alexander Bickel Symposium," SCOTUSblog (August 16, 2012).
Excerpt: Modern constitutional theory began with Alexander Bickel’s The Least Dangerous Branch and its declaration that judicial review is a “deviant institution” in American democracy and that there is a “counter-majoritarian difficulty” in having… More

Bickel’s Principled Prudence

– Adam J. White, "Online Alexander Bickel Symposium," SCOTUSBlog (August 15, 2012).
Excerpt: In writing The Least Dangerous Branch, Alexander Bickel famously drew the title from Alexander Hamilton’s assurance, in Federalist 78, that “the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political… More

On Rereading “The Least Dangerous Branch”

– Floyd Abrams, "Online Alexander Bickel Symposium," SCOTUSblog (August 15, 2012).
Excerpt: For me, rereading The Least Dangerous Branch (TLDB) is to return my first days in Yale Law School – and Alex Bickel’s first days as well. We both entered Yale in the fall of 1956, he as a professor, and I as a student. By alphabetical serendipity… More

Certiorari – At the Bar of Law or Politics?

– Kathryn A. Watts, "Online Alexander Bickel Symposium," SCOTUSblog (August 14, 2012).
Excerpt: The Supreme Court’s docket during the October 2011 Term covered a wide range of highly charged, hot-button topics, including television indecency, warrantless GPS surveillance, state regulation of immigration and, of course, the Affordable Care… More


On Mr. Jaworski’s Quarrel with Mr. Nixon

New York Times (May 23, 1974).
Excerpt: Special prosecutor Leon Jaworski’s complaint to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the White House is threatening his independence naturally reminds everyone of the quarrel the White House picked with Archibald Cox, Mr. Jaworski’s… More


– In Watergate, Politics, and the Legal Process. American Enterprise Institute (1974).

Watergate and the Legal Order

Commentary (January 1974).
Excerpt: Months ago, when the scandals of the Nixon administration were fewer and relatively simpler, there was some self-serving talk of a commonalty of error among the Watergate perpetrators, as the arresting officers might have called them, and the radical… More

What Now?

New Republic (November 3, 1973).


New York Times v. United States

– Video, C-SPAN, June 18, 1971.
Following a taped interview with Professor Irons about the case, the audio transcript of arguments in New York Times v. United States was heard. The case involved the federal government’s opposition to the publication by the New York Times and the… More