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Download Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution Audiobook, by Stephen Breyer Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (293 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Stephen Breyer Narrator: Stephen Breyer Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2005 ISBN: 9781449802837
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This book, based on the Tanner lectures on Human Values that Justice Stephen Breyer delivered at Harvard in November 2004, defines the term "active liberty" as a sharing of the nation's sovereign authority with its citizens. He argues that the genius of t Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Provocative and well-argued…What we need more of, Active Liberty insists, is not activist judges but activist citizens.”

    New York Times

  • “Breyer’s prose is admirably simple and clear, and his discussion shows a keen legal intellect that espouses broad values rather than narrow theories, and a deep, humane concern with fostering democracy and the well-being of the citizenry. This will be essential reading at a possibly watershed moment for the Supreme Court.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Impeccable advice for the powerful in all walks of life.”

    Boston Globe

  • Active Liberty will likely influence not only public debate but also how lawyers craft their cases.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “A brisk, lucid and energetic book, written with conviction and offering a central argument that is at once provocative and appealing...Deserves a place of honor in national debates, now and in the future, about the role of the Supreme Court in American life.”

    New Republic

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Bethany | 2/2/2014

    " I really did read this with an open mind, I swear. I wanted to see how the more liberal 'evolving Constitution' justices explained their jurisprudence. But this was a real snore. Just not well written, no colorful examples, no personality really of any kind. In person Breyer seems pretty fun, but there's no evidence of that in here. Not to mention that his jurisprudence makes no sense to me still - he's trying to encourage democracy by ruling the way he does? Really? By taking abortion and capital punishment and affirmative action and all these other hotly contested issues TOTALLY OUT OF THE DEMOCRATIC SPHERE? That's an interesting (read nonsensical) notion... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ronald | 1/26/2014

    " Disappointing on many levels. Doesn't hold a candle to Judge Bork's many works. I'll summarize "active" liberty for you: We're the judges, we know best, we need more power, and the "negative" liberty of the Founding Fathers is holding us back. Downright scary in some parts. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Matt | 1/24/2014

    " Kind of difficult to follow for somebody with no background in the field. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark | 1/21/2014

    " Describes the concepts of the personal rights of active liberty (participation in government) and passive liberty (freedom from government interference), and discusses how judicial decision making can be influenced by taking these rights into account. This book is short and repetitive, but the fundamental importance of these rights in American society outweighs those shortcomings. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Raimo Wirkkala | 1/3/2014

    " This book is based on a series of lectures and, unfortunately, it, for the most part, reads like it. His overall thesis is interesting as are sections like the one on affirmative action. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lezlee Hays | 11/28/2013

    " Breyer is my favorite justice, so I'm slightly biased, but this book is really apolitical. He is only trying to explain the judicial process and the importance of interpretations of the constitution. I think a lot of people truly misunderstand the idea of 'activist judges' or the idea that judges appointed under a republican administration are going to be "conservative" or under a democratic administration are going to be "liberal". It doesn't quite work that way at all. "conservative" and "liberal" have very different meanings when we're talking about jurisprudence. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amy Mcghee | 11/18/2013

    " I tried, but I could not finish it. I could not follow his arguments. His writing felt muddy. I stopped at page 60 or so. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 11/7/2013

    " An excellent little book by a Justice likely to go down in history as solid, if not superlative. Certainly worth reading if an 'Originalist' found it thought-provoking (see below. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mathalus | 9/25/2013

    " I started this after I read The Nine, but it is extremely hard to get through. I wish I could push through it and pick up some anti-Constructionist tips. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Russ | 9/24/2013

    " Reinforced my liberal, pro-gov't leanings with a real philosophical foundation. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eli | 8/12/2013

    " Justice Breyer is truly a 21st century jurist. This book showcases his brilliance and ability to consider American law from a whole new perspective. Not an easy read, and requires a careful study but well worth the time of anyone interested in American legal development. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Josh | 8/12/2013

    " The underlying point to this was very interesting, and a different take on the living constitution than I had read before. However, it reads like a very long speech, and is incredibly dry. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John | 7/20/2013

    " Succinct read on the value of avoiding become too textual in the interpretation of the law. Context and consequence matter. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lennon | 7/7/2013

    " Terrible book. Awful sentence structure. Way to complicated to understand "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ryan | 5/9/2013

    " Makes more sense than Scalia's book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Zach Barnes | 2/7/2013

    " Interesting look into the thought process of a deliberate man "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary Ann McGrail | 1/16/2013

    " A good read - Breyer is thoughtful and a good writer - his concept of active liberty, as he conceives a kind of liberty associated with the greek city-states is thought-provoking. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mica | 8/28/2012

    " Well written, but I'm not convinced. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bryson | 8/13/2012

    " This was a pretty fascinating little book by Justice Breyer. The idea of active liberty, or the liberty of the ancients, was interesting and definitely something worth considering. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donald | 6/6/2012

    " Another geeky Supreme Court book. Why? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jenny | 1/21/2012

    " Justice Breyer is a horrible writer. He is preoccupied with sounding scholarly and academic than with fostering real debate on the topic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sean | 11/22/2011

    " SCOTUS Justice Stephen Breyer continues a tradition of essentially Libertarian interpretations of the US Constitution, contributing his analysis of precedent and meaning to the broader body of interpretations about Constitutional Law "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Adrienne | 10/11/2011

    " If you read a Matter of Interpretation, you should read this book. This book is a short exposition of Justice Breyer's theory of statutory and constitutional interpretation, and that, quite simply, is what makes it valuable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cheng | 5/23/2011

    " Very well written, a fast read, succinct, really gets his point across. And of course, a point of view I agree with! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Zach | 1/4/2011

    " Interesting look into the thought process of a deliberate man "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amy | 10/8/2010

    " I tried, but I could not finish it. I could not follow his arguments. His writing felt muddy. I stopped at page 60 or so. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sean | 9/25/2010

    " SCOTUS Justice Stephen Breyer continues a tradition of essentially Libertarian interpretations of the US Constitution, contributing his analysis of precedent and meaning to the broader body of interpretations about Constitutional Law "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bryson | 9/21/2010

    " This was a pretty fascinating little book by Justice Breyer. The idea of active liberty, or the liberty of the ancients, was interesting and definitely something worth considering. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 8/30/2010

    " An excellent little book by a Justice likely to go down in history as solid, if not superlative. Certainly worth reading if an 'Originalist' found it thought-provoking (see below. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Josh | 2/20/2010

    " The underlying point to this was very interesting, and a different take on the living constitution than I had read before. However, it reads like a very long speech, and is incredibly dry. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cheng | 9/26/2009

    " Very well written, a fast read, succinct, really gets his point across. And of course, a point of view I agree with! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donald | 6/7/2009

    " Another geeky Supreme Court book. Why? "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mathalus | 3/18/2009

    " I started this after I read The Nine, but it is extremely hard to get through. I wish I could push through it and pick up some anti-Constructionist tips. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mica | 1/20/2009

    " Well written, but I'm not convinced. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Matt | 1/10/2009

    " Kind of difficult to follow for somebody with no background in the field. "

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About the Author
Author Stephen Breyer

Stephen Breyer is an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. He is a resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Washington, DC.