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Independent Journey: The Life of William O. Douglas

Simon, James F.

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ISBN 10: 0060140429 / ISBN 13: 9780060140427
Published by Harper & Row, Publishers, New York, 1980
Hardcover
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viii, 503, [1] p. Illustrations. Notes. Index. From Wikipedia: "William Orville Douglas (October 16, 1898 January 19, 1980) served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. His term, lasting 36 years and 209 days (1939 75), is the longest term in the history of the Supreme Court. He was the 79th person appointed and confirmed to the bench of that court. In 1975 Time magazine called Douglas "the most doctrinaire and committed civil libertarian ever to sit on the court". In general, legal scholars have noted that Douglas's judicial style was unusual in that he did not attempt to elaborate justifications for his judicial positions on the basis of text, history, or precedent. Instead, Douglas was known for writing short, pithy opinions which relied on philosophical insights, observations about current politics, and literature, as much as more conventional "judicial" sources. Ultimately, he believed that a judge's role was "not neutral." "The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of the people." On the bench Douglas became known as a strong advocate of First Amendment rights. With fellow Justice Hugo Black, Douglas argued for a "literalist" interpretation of the First Amendment, insisting that the First Amendment's command that "no law" shall restrict freedom of speech should be interpreted literally. He wrote the opinion in Terminiello v. City of Chicago (1949) overturning the conviction of a Catholic priest who allegedly caused a "breach of the peace" by making anti-Semitic comments during a raucous public speech. Douglas, joined by Black, furthered his advocacy of a broad reading of First Amendment rights by dissenting from the Supreme Court's decision in Dennis v. United States (1952) affirming the conviction of the leader of the U.S. Communist Party. In 1944 Douglas voted with the majority to uphold Japanese wartime internment, in Korematsu v. United States, but over the course of his career he grew to become a leading advocate of individual rights. Suspicious of majority rule as it related to social and moral questions, he frequently expressed concern at forced conformity with "the Establishment" in his opinions. For example, Douglas wrote the lead opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut, finding a "right to privacy" in the "penumbras" of the first eight amendments of the Bill of Rights. This went too far for his old ally Black, who dissented in Griswold. Douglas and Black also disagreed in Fortson v. Morris, the 1967 decision which cleared the path for the Georgia State Legislature to choose the governor in the deadlocked 1966 race between Democrat Lester Maddox and Republican Howard Callaway. Whereas Black voted with the majority under strict construction to uphold the state constitutional provision, Douglas and Abe Fortas dissented. According to Douglas, Georgia tradition would guarantee a Maddox victory though he had trailed Callaway by some three thousand votes in the general election returns. Douglas also saw the issue as a continuation of the earlier decision Gray v. Sanders, which had struck down Georgia's County Unit System, a kind of electoral college formerly used to choose the governor." Very good in good dust jacket. Price clipped. DJ has wear, soiling, edge tears, and chips. First edition. First Edition [stated]. First printing [stated]. Bookseller Inventory # 67092

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Independent Journey: The Life of William O. ...

Publisher: Harper & Row, Publishers, New York

Publication Date: 1980

Binding: Hardcover

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

James F. Simon is Martin Professor of Law Emeritus and Dean Emeritus of New York Law School and the author of eight books on American history, law, and politics. This first major biography of Justice William O. Douglas presents a vital, human portrait of the most controversial man to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court in its 191 year history. Simon researched this book for three and a half years and interviewed Douglas's friends and enemies, his children, his wives and Douglas himself. His causes so offended conservative members of Congress that, on four separate occasions, they tried to impeach him. An insightful and intimate portrait of Douglas's generosity and pettiness, his genius and intellectual laziness, his personal problems and his public greatness.

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