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The Supreme Court and the American Elite, 1789-2008


The Supreme Court and the American Elite, 1789-2008 Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

“The Supreme Court follows the election returns,” the fictional Mr. Dooley observed a hundred years ago. And for all our ideals and dreams of a disinterested judiciary, above the political fray, it seems Mr. Dooley was right. In this engaging—and disturbing—book, a leading historian of the Court reveals the close fit between its decisions and the nation’s politics.

The story begins with the creation of the Constitution and ends with the June 2008 decisions on the rights of detainees at Guantánamo Bay. Rendering crisp (and often controversial) judgments on key decisions from Marbury v. Madison to the War on Terror, Lucas Powe shows how virtually every major Supreme Court ruling, however deftly framed in constitutional terms, suited the wishes of the most powerful politicians of the time. This history reflects a changing Court, from the country’s early struggles over commerce and transportation to the torturous justifications of slavery before the Civil War, to a post–New Deal interest in ending segregation, controlling criminal procedure, and addressing knotty questions arising from the Cold War. Through all of this the Court emerges as part of a ruling regime, doing its best to implement the regime’s policies.

Drawing on more than four decades of thinking about the Supreme Court and its role in the American political system, this book offers a new, clear, and troubling perspective on American jurisprudence, politics, and history.

About the Author

Lucas A. Powe, Jr., holds the Anne Green Regents Chair at the University of Texas, where he teaches in the School of Law and the Department of Government.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  1. Very Modest Beginnings
  2. The Court in a Two-Party Republic
  3. The States and the Republic
  4. The Sectional Crisis and the Jacksonian Court
  5. Civil War and Reconstruction
  6. Industrializing America
  7. Progressivism, Normalcy, and Depression
  8. After the New Deal Constitutional Revolution
  9. Reforming America
  10. An Uneasy Status Quo
  11. An Imperial Court
  • Chronology
  • Notes
  • Selective Bibliography
  • Index of Cases
  • General Index

Product Details

Powe, Lucas A Jr
Harvard University Press
Powe, L. A. Scot
Powe, Lucas A.
Courts - Supreme Court
United States - General
Legal History
Constitutional history -- United States.
United States History.
Law-Legal Guides and Reference
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
April 2009
Grade Level:
8.25 x 5.5 in

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