Communitarianism and the Roberts Court

78 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2019

See all articles by Robert Ackerman

Robert Ackerman

Wayne State University Law School

Date Written: 2017


In this Article, Professor Ackerman examines the work of the Roberts Court through a communitarian lens. Communitarians strive for a reasonable balance between individual rights and the collective good. They believe that even in a rights-conscious society, rights have limits, and involve responsibilities. And so, communitarians will often consider whether the Supreme Court has struck a proper balance between individual liberty and the public interest. But communitarian theory has other, multidimensional aspects. Communitarians view people as social animals, who are not mere autonomous agents with nobody to care about but themselves. They therefore see the value not only of large-scale communities (such as an entire nation) but of smaller, intermediate communities, such as states, labor unions, civic organizations, religious congregations, and—at the most intimate level—families. As a consequence, Professor Ackerman asks whether, in cases ranging from Citizens United to Obergefell, the Court has adequately considered the role of intermediate communities—what we call “civil society”—in pursuing the good and animating citizens to connect with one another. Finally, Professor Ackerman sees communitarianism as a way to view the world in a non-binary manner, thereby breaking down the political barriers that impair our ability to reason together and formulate good law and policy.

Suggested Citation

Ackerman, Robert, Communitarianism and the Roberts Court (2017). Florida State University Law Review, Vol. 45, No. 59, 2017, Available at SSRN:

Robert Ackerman (Contact Author)

Wayne State University Law School ( email )

471 Palmer
Detroit, MI 48202
United States

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