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Top Customer Reviews
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals of this time period was the greatest collection of talent ever assembled in the history of American jurisprudence. Their story is testimony to their courage, often in the face of social ostracism, threats of physical violence and all manner of disrespect.
The subjects of this work, Judges Richard Rives, John Brown, John Wisdom and Elbert Tuttle are among the most courageous men ever to don the robes and swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution. They were true to the oath they took, and in living up to that affirmation, brought the South, kicking and screaming into the 20th century.
A wonderfully researched work, easily readable for lawyers and normal people. Essential to the complete understanding of the times and the efforts undertaken by those who sought to change them.
The author's account centers on the old Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, before it was split, and when it spanned most of the deep-south states of the Old Confederacy. Smith's sought-for men arose. Bass frequently refers to them as "The Four," a key voting bloc in a Court of nine, with a Chief Judge, in his `80's, often absent. The four were Richard T. Rives, Elbert P. Tuttle, John Minor Wisdom and John R. Brown. The four received key support from at least two District Judges: Frank M. Johnson in Alabama, and J. Skelly Wright in New Orleans. (Both were later elevated to the Court of Appeals level).Read more ›
It's also an excellent work on federalism (federal vs. states) and the proper role of the judiciary. Did the 5th Circuit act as a super legislature at times? Did it exceed its powers? Perhaps. What should be done when the other two branches dig in and will not correct a clear wrong? If something like segregation is morally is abhorrent, but maintained by facially neutral laws and regulations, should the courts end it or is that the role solely assigned to the legislature?
Law schools follow the tried and true formula, blah, blah, blah, Marbury v. Madison, etc., case method, same old cases that have been been used for decades. Most constitutional law professors could probably teach their classes half asleep and I'm sure many do.
I learned more about the judiciary, legal procedure and federalism that I did in 3 years of law school from this book.
The book touched upon the topic of busing and that in itself is an explosive issue as I recall growing up in the 1970's. Frankly, I'm glad I didn't have to sit on a school bus for 3 hours a day to satisfy a federally court ordered school plan.
A final note. It's an inspiring book and I'm sure the attorneys involved probably their work during this era to be their most memorable and challenging legal work in their careers.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I always give this to law students in my office. A must read.Published 7 months ago by Beverly Pohl
A must read for pre law & history students. As a layman this book heighten my appreciation
for US District Court Judges who solve problems that Congress or The President... Read more
"The Four" in "Unlikely Heroes" are Judges Wright, Tuttle, Wisdom, and Rives. Instead of avarice or desire for fame, "The Four"'s ironic flaw in "Unlikely Heroes" (hereafter UH)... Read morePublished on March 13, 2013 by John Panagopoulos