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A People's History of the Supreme Court

Irons, Peter H.;Irons, Peter

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ISBN 10: 0670870064 / ISBN 13: 9780670870066
Published by Viking Pr, NY, 1999
Used Condition: Almost Fine Cloth
From On The Road Books (Waynesboro, PA, U.S.A.)

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Book has remainder slash on bottom paper edges. 542pp with Index. Tan/brown cloth. 1st Ed. with complete number line.Tight, square, bright copy. Firm corners. No internal names, notes or markings. Crisp, unclipped pictorial DJ in Mylar cover. Foreward by Howard Zinn. The cases and the people behind them. First rate read. USPS Tracking included. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 15967

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Bibliographic Details

Title: A People's History of the Supreme Court

Publisher: Viking Pr, NY

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Cloth

Book Condition:Almost Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: First Edition

Book Type: American History

About this title


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.


The savvy, chatty author of The Courage of Their Convictions brings us a scholarly reckoning of the 200-plus years of decisions made by the highest court in the land. Not surprisingly (and justifiably, given his erudite arguments), Peter H. Irons represents the court's work as a never-ending appeal of the powerless to the powerful: of the just over 100 supreme justices who have sat on the court, all but two have been white, all but two have been men, and all but seven have been Christian, whereas the supplicants to our nation's highest bar are typically racial minorities, women, and deviants in some way from the religious and social mainstream.

Taking a representative (if not comprehensive) accounting of the Supreme Court's most significant decisions, Irons puts cultural and political context--and a human face--to the parties involved, painting an absorbing and involving picture of landmark cases that readers are likely to recall but not fully understand. Whether he's explicating the tortuous history of freedom-seeking slave Dred Scott or explaining the "a Jap's a Jap" reasoning behind the legal exculpation of World War II internment camps, Irons reminds us of the court's spotted history while still conveying the deep affection he has for it. (Includes a thoughtful appendix with the complete text of the Constitution and suggestions for further reading.) --Paul Hughes

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