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Dissent and the Supreme Court: Its Role in the Court's History and the Nation's Constitutional Dialogue Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 13, 2015
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DISSENT AND THE SUPREME COURT
“Brilliant . . . Urofsky’s expertise as a historian and student of the Supreme Court brings depth and richness to his treatment of this fascinating subject . . . A good read for those who find the workings of the Court of special interest.”
–Ronald Goldfarb, Washington Lawyer
“One of the nation’s great legal historians . . . masterfully recounts the history of dissent on the court, from its early days, when dissents were rare and strongly discouraged, to the modern era, when they often outnumbered majority opinions.
–David Cole, The Washington Post
“Balanced, and highly illuminating . . . For anyone interested in the Constitution, the Supreme Court, and the American democracy, lawyer and layperson alike . . . An intriguing account . . . A significant contribution to our understanding of the Supreme Court and the Constitution.”
–Stephen Rohde, The Los Angeles Review of Books
“Incisive . . . Dissent and the Supreme Court traces the dissent’s noble history and shows how many of the most important protections of American society – free speech, racial equality, individual liberty – began their lives as dissents pushing back against a court that was not yet ready to hear them.”
–Joshua J. Friedman, Columbia Magazine
“Ambitious . . . Urofsky’s extraordinarily careful analysis and sense of historical depth make ‘Dissent and the Supreme Court’ an important book, one that explores some of the most significant dissents in the history of that institution . . .riveting . . . Indeed, his book can serve as a guide, a way of determining what constitutes a really fine and compelling dissent.”
–Dahlia Lithwick, New York Times Book Review
“A welcome perspective on a vibrant, ongoing constitutional dialogue.”
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
To me it is obvious dissent has been a major factor when it comes to developing American domestic policy -- just as it is in any long-term political relationship. The Founding Fathers considered dissent such a critical part of American politics that they drafted the Constitution in a way that wouldn't hedge or direct dissent (hence the lack of any reference or provision for political parties in the document). I think the history of the Court, and how it has developed over time and created its place in the federal government is covered very well in this book.
Mr. Urofsky is eloquent on most of the subject matter and excessively interesting on anything that touches on Brandeis, which apparently is his real subject of expertise (or one of them ?)
Anyhow, this was a nice refresher for me and got me thinking about cases I haven't given much thought to since law school. If you want a very readable account of the Court's history and how dissent has shaped the Court, this is a pleasurable read.
Author and law professor Melvin Urofsky takes a unique look at the dissents of landmark cases that shaped society over the past 226 years. Sometimes those dissents prove to be the catalyst for change, as in Plessey v. Ferguson, and in others they provide a window into another chapter in our nation's history.
Urofsky lets the words of the justices speak for themselves while providing a background into the era in which these cases came to be heard. He does a good job of introducing the layman reader to the workings of the court and impressively checks whatever his political leanings may be at the door.
It is pretty well known that on today's court, Justices Scalia and Ginsburg, despite their political differences, are close friends and confidants and have great respect for each other. I liked that Urofsky lets the reader see how personal relationships like this have shaped the court and sometimes influenced - for the better - the drafting of both majority and minority opinions.
This will be an easier read for someone in the legal field than it was for a layperson like myself. It can be a bit academic at times but Urofsky is thorough and comprehensive in his coverage of the court.
This is not a fast read - there is a lot of information to digest - but it is an enlightening history lesson and well worth the investment of time.
Favorite parts of the book involved those dealing with the personalities of the justices both those who were on the right side of history and those who were on the wrong side of history. Many of the justices made good points for their viewpoints that it can be seen how hard it would have been, living at the time, to not have close verdicts. Even those who would be on the wrong side (wrong side defined as being in the side who would be eventually overturned, or even ones who had supported cases like Plessy v Ferguson, or in the most recent times, roe v wade, and a few homosexuality opinions). The book highlighted that most of this was all due to pushing forward an agenda of getting dialogue flowing between the judicial, legislative system, and then the public. What seemed great was that they end up going in the direction of what the public eventually favors publicly.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Informative read on the role of dissents and concurrences over time. I think other dissents were more important (he dismisses Black's Adamson dissent as advocacy, but it is... Read morePublished 21 days ago by JeffF
An excellent and graphic selection of dissents that show how the Court worksPublished 1 month ago by Carlos Rios
By the author of a marvelous bio of Justice Louis Brandeis, this expounds on the judicial legacy of dissenting opinions by Brandeis and others. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Gderf
Easy to read and fascinating information. I first checked the book out from our library but decided I wanted to keep a copy. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Janet
We always hear about the rulings on Supreme Court decisions, what the majority of judges voted on, but we don't hear about the dissenting opinions too often as they become... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Kyle Slayzar
I never thought in my life that I would be interested in this topic of the Supreme Court and Dissent, but I think in light of recent events and the role of the Supreme Court... Read morePublished 12 months ago by BumbleB
Really interesting book for when you have the ability and time to concentrate during your reading hour. Read morePublished 12 months ago by MussSyke
If you like history lessons then this is the book for you. That was my favorite class when I was in high school and college too. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Steve J.