Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



Andrew Coan’s book, Rationing the Constitution, offers a novel account of the forces that drive Supreme Court decisions across a wide array of highly controversial, vitally important areas of law. The project is ambitious. It endeavors to improve our understanding of forces that constrain the form and, ultimately, the substance of our constitutional law along each of its major axes: federalism, the separation of powers, and individual rights. I think it succeeds. The book’s central claim—that familiar (but underexplored) institutional constraints and background norms sharply limit the range of choices available to the Court when it is called upon to enforce the Constitution—is almost certainly correct.