Alexander Bickel Has Left the Building

Sanford Levinson, "Online Alexander Bickel Symposium," SCOTUSblog (August 20, 2012).


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 his spirit certainly lives on. His portrait, for example, is a dominant presence in Yale’s largest classroom, devoted to memorializing its most important faculty members. Inevitably, though, one can wonder to what extent the central ideas associated with him continue to be truly influential or whether, on the contrary, he can be relatively safely historicized as a figure, however important, from the past whose presence is akin to any other grandfatherly (or older) figure who opines about the way things used to be as descendants increasingly forge their own paths.