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The Supreme Court and the American Elite, 1789-2008 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674032675
ISBN-10: 0674032675
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An excellent book, and great fun to read. It is lively, opinionated (in the best fashion), and full of new insights about every period in the Supreme Court's history. (Jack M. Balkin, Yale Law School)

A leading historian of the Supreme Court, Powe decries what he calls the Imperial Court, which he sees as overly concerned with solidifying its primacy through a series of pretentious opinions. He details a litany of cases in which the Rehnquist Court overturned positive, progressive, and proactive legislation designed to protect and improve society, instead turning to rigid interpretation in an overreaching attempt to stifle congressional authority, as granted by the Constitution. Powe links the Supreme Court's late 20th-century mindset change with the ascendancy of a Republican majority in Congress, which began with the 1994 elections and continued until the mid-term election of 2006. As the author convincingly argues, surfing waves of electoral sentiment is a bad move for a Court cognizant of its historical legacy, and it may some day regret its decisions to invalidate the Violence Against Women Act, strike down the Gun Free School Zones Act, and abrogate damage-remedy provisions under both the Age Discrimination and Americans with Disabilities Acts. (Philip Y. Blue Library Journal 2009-04-15)

Powe has certainly written a book that is entertaining, quirky, idiosyncratic, fun to read, and more than occasionally insightful. It does blend together legal doctrine and American politics, and as a result the history is richer--and more complete--than the usual account. (Lawrence M. Friedman American Prospect 2009-04-01)

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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1 edition (April 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674032675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674032675
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,905,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book. I have read many, many books on the Supreme Court, its history, and the lives of those who have served upon it, and this one rates among the most enjoyable panoramic histories I've read. It may not appeal as much to one who selects this as an introduction to the Court's history, as I believe it is written more for persons already familiar with the area -- but for those readers, it offers a rewarding insight into each of the cases, controversies, and personalities, and the interactions of these forces, which have shaped the Court and the Country since its founding days.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Powe's examination of the the Supreme Court's evolution and interaction alongside events in American History demonstrates the impact of the Court on history. Whether one wishes to trace the pattern from the foundations to the present or focus on an era, chapter or event in history, Powe provides solid background along with insight. Reads well, not overly legalistic but informative.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Learned about the history of supreme court decisions; labor and civil rights we interesting.
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By KS on August 4, 2014
Format: Paperback
Great read, very detailed accounts.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The title suggests it would be a complement to (or update of) Gustavus Myers' History of the Supreme Court of the United States. Instead it's just a rehash of material found in any elementary U.S. history class.
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