978-0-670-87006-6 / 9780670870066

A People's History of the Supreme Court


Publisher:Viking Adult



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About the book:

A major work of history, by a renowned legal scholar, chronicles an institution that affects the life of every American.

In the tradition of Howard Zinn's The People's History of the United States, Peter Irons brings to the history of our Supreme Court the "human touch" (San Diego Union) of the first-person stories of his own classic book The Courage of Their Convictions. This sweeping account of the Supreme Court traces its path from the Constitutional Convention of 1787 to its controversial rulings on free speech, racial segregation, abortion, and gay rights.

"When Peter Irons looks at an institution," says Kenneth Karst of UCLA Law School, "he sees the people who are its lifeblood." A People's History of the Supreme Court views that vital institution from both sides of the mahogany bench.

Irons provides sketches of every justice from John Jay to Stephen Breyer and portraits of such legal giants as John Marshall, Roger Taney, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Hugo Black, Earl Warren, and Thurgood Marshall. But the people who stand in the foreground of this vivid historical mural are ordinary Americans like Dred Scott, Homer Plessy, and Michael Hardwick. The cases they brought to the Supreme Court forced the justices to confront the Constitution's promise that every American deserves "the blessings of liberty." And in this fascinating work, Irons recounts the landmark decisions in which the Court both honored and broke that promise, in cases that span more than two centuries.

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