6 Best Books About The Supreme Court Update 05/2022

Simple Justice: The History of Brown V. Board of Education and Black America’s Struggle for Equality By Richard Kluger

Because this book is interesting.

When did the Supreme Court rule that Jim Crow laws were “separate but equal,” in 1896? Was that what split the NAACP? Kluger shows that the group came together around a plan to start with racist admissions policies in professional and graduate schools, then move on to more politically sensitive issues like segregated public schools. Civil-rights groups started Howard University’s law school with the goal of teaching black lawyers how to fight for desegregation. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that separate-but-equal schools were unconstitutional after Thurgood Marshall, a member of the NAACP, took on the Brown v. Board of Education case.

Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment By Anthony Lewis

Because this book is interesting.

Anthony Lewis’s Gideon’s Trumpet may be the most well-known account of a single Supreme Court case written by a journalist. Make No Law has a more interesting beginning. It’s a representative of the Committee to Defend Martin Luther King and the Southern Struggle for Freedom who walks in to take out an ad in the New York Times. There were a lot of southern officials who didn’t like how the full-page ad called for people to “heed their rising voices.” One, Montgomery, Alabama, police commissioner L. B. Sullivan said he was going to sue the Times for libel. Local all-white jurors decided in favor of Sullivan. In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the decision, setting a very high standard for public figures who want to sue for defamation, and the law still stands today. As a Times reporter, Lewis wrote about the case. He shows how press freedoms in the United States have grown, but also how important the media were as both observers and participants in the civil rights movement.

Liberty and Sexuality: The Right to Privacy and the Making of Roe V. Wade By David J. Garrow

Because this book is interesting.

1965 was the first time that the Supreme Court said that the Constitution gave people a “right to privacy.” It overturned Connecticut’s longstanding ban on the sale and use of birth control, which had been in place for decades. P.T. Barnum was the state legislator who wrote the state’s anti-contraception law in 1879. Garrow’s book talks about how activists in Connecticut have worked for years to change the law, and how lawyers changed their pick of plaintiffs from doctors who said the law made it hard for them to give medical advice to married women who said they had a right to privacy in their marriages. In the years after Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court kept expanding that new privacy doctrine, first by extending it to the intimate decisions of unmarried people, and then by extending it to the right to an abortion with Roe v. Wade, which came out in 1973.

Chadha: The Story of an Epic Constitutional Struggle By Barbara Hinkson Craig

Because this book is interesting.

In 1983, the court heard a case called Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha. It was about one of the most important things about the American project, the separation of powers. But the facts of the case were all tragically small. It was not clear what to do with Jagdish Chadha after the INS found that he had been in the United States too long. Then, Craig says, “he was not deportable, but he had no visa or papers of any kind to show to employers.” As a result of Congress getting involved with the INS’ handling of Chadha’s case, a group of lawyers who work with Ralph Nader agreed to help him. They saw a way to limit Congress’s ability to meddle with administration policy in other regulatory areas. Several things were in question as Chadha’s case moved toward the Supreme Court. Not only was the system of checks and balances in question, but so was the fate of one man who could be stateless for the rest of his life.

Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America By Adam Winkler

Because this book is interesting.

It is possible that Heller v. District of Columbia was brought by a Washington police officer who was unhappy with a local law that made it illegal for him to keep a working handgun in his home. If you look at a movie like Gunfight, you can see that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the gun rights movement. Winkler shows how a 1977 coup in the National Rifle Association turned a group founded by Civil War veterans to teach marksmanship and gun safety into a civil-liberties group that is very strict about the 2nd Amendment. By the time Heller got to the Supreme Court in 2008, what would have been a very different view of the Constitution if it said that people have a fundamental right to own a handgun for self-defense had become a view that most of the court agreed with.

A Year in the Life of the Supreme Court  by Rodney A. Smolla

Despite its important role in the life of the country and its citizens, the Supreme Court is still a mystery to most people in the United States. They don’t get to see it in action very often. It is a book written by journalists who cover the Supreme Court. They are not only the eyes and ears of the American people but also of the Constitution itself. In this book, they give us a rare look into the Court’s work and the people who make it happen. A year in the life of the Supreme Court is told through their stories.

The cases that are heard by the Supreme Court are first and foremost disputes between real people with real stories. Drama can be made out of the accidents and twists of fate that have led these people to the last place they can go to get justice. As a backdrop for the bigger issues the Supreme Court deals with: abortion, separation of church and state, free speech, privacy, crime, violence, discrimination, and the death penalty. The contributors to this volume bring these stories to life. In these stories, the authors describe the personalities and jurisprudential leanings of the different Justices, and they explain how these characters and theories about the Constitution work together to make the Court’s decisions.

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