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It is well known that the scope of individual rights has expanded dramatically in the United States over the last half-century. Less well known is that other countries have experienced "rights revolutions" as well. Charles R. Epp argues that, far from being the fruit of an activist judiciary, the ascendancy of civil rights and liberties has rested on the democratization of access to the courts—the influence of advocacy groups, the establishment of governmental enforcement agencies, the growth of financial and legal resources for ordinary citizens, and the strategic planning of grass roots organizations. In other words, the shift in the rights of individuals is best understood as a "bottom up," rather than a "top down," phenomenon.
The Rights Revolution is the first comprehensive and comparative analysis of the growth of civil rights, examining the high courts of the United States, Britain, Canada, and India within their specific constitutional and cultural contexts. It brilliantly revises our understanding of the relationship between courts and social change.