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From New York Times bestselling author Adam Cohen, a revelatory examination of the conservative direction of the Supreme Court over the last fifty years since the Nixon administration In 1969, newly elected president Richard Nixon launched an assault on the Supreme Court. He appointed four conservative justices in just three years, dismantling its previous liberal majority and setting it on a rightward course that continues to today. Before this drastic upheaval, the Court, led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, had been a powerful force for equality and inclusion, expanding the rights of the poor and racial minorities. Its rulings integrated schools across the South, established the Miranda warning for suspects in police custody, and recognized the principle of one person, one vote. But when Warren retired, Nixon used his four nominations to put a stop to that liberal agenda, and turn the Court into a force for his own views about what kind of nation America should be. In Supreme Inequality, bestselling author Adam Cohen surveys the most significant Supreme Court rulings since the Nixon era and exposes how rarely the Court has veered away from its agenda of promoting inequality. Contrary to what Americans like to believe, the Court does little to protect the rights of the poor and disadvantaged; in fact, it has not been on their side for fifty years. Many of the greatest successes of the Warren Court, in areas such as school desegregation, voting rights, and protecting workers, have been abandoned in favor of rulings that protect corporations and privileged Americans, who tend to be white, wealthy, and powerful. As the nation comes to grips with two new Trump-appointed justices, Cohen proves beyond doubt that the modern Court has been one of the leading forces behind the nation's soaring level of economic inequality, and that an institution revered as a source of fairness has been systematically making America less fair. A triumph of American legal, political, and social history, Supreme Inequality holds to account the highest court in the land, and shows how much damage it has done to America's ideals of equality, democracy, and justice for all.
"From New York Times bestselling author Adam Cohen, a revelatory examination of the conservative direction of the Supreme Court over the last fifty years since the Nixon administration. In the early 1960s, the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren was at the height of its power, expanding civil rights for the poor and minorities and promoting equality in dramatic ways through rulings such as Brown v Board of Education and establishing the "Miranda warning" for persons in police custody. But when Warren announced his retirement in 1968, newly elected President Richard Nixon, who had been working tirelessly behind the scenes to put a stop to what he perceived as the Court's liberal agenda, had his new administration launch a total assault on the Warren Court's egalitarian victories, moving to dismantle its legacy and replace liberal justices with others more loyal to his views. During his six years in office, he appointed four justices to the Supreme Court, thereby setting its course for the next fifty years. In Supreme Inequality, Adam Cohen surveys the most significant Supreme Court rulings since Nixon and exposes how rarely the Court has veered away from a pro-corporate agenda. Contrary to what Americans might like to believe, the Court does not protect equally the rights of the poor and disadvantaged, and, in fact, hasn't for decades. Many of the greatest successes of the Warren Court, such as school desegregation, labor unions, voting rights, and class action suits, have been abandoned in favor of rulings that protect privileged Americans who tend to be white, wealthy, and powerful. As the nation comes to grips with two newly Trump-appointed justices, Cohen proves beyond doubt that the trajectory of today's Court is the result of decisions made fifty years ago, decisions that have contributed directly and grievously to our nation's soaring inequality. An triumph of American legal, political, and social history, Supreme Inequality holds to account the highest court in the land, and should shake to its core any optimistic faith we might have in it to provide checks and balances"--
Longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction One of America’s great miscarriages of justice, the Supreme Court’s infamous 1927 Buck v. Bell ruling made government sterilization of “undesirable” citizens the law of the land In 1927, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling so disturbing, ignorant, and cruel that it stands as one of the great injustices in American history. In Imbeciles, bestselling author Adam Cohen exposes the court’s decision to allow the sterilization of a young woman it wrongly thought to be “feebleminded” and to champion the mass eugenic sterilization of undesirable citizens for the greater good of the country. The 8–1 ruling was signed by some of the most revered figures in American law—including Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former U.S. president; and Louis Brandeis, a progressive icon. Oliver Wendell Holmes, considered by many the greatest Supreme Court justice in history, wrote the majority opinion, including the court’s famous declaration “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Imbeciles is the shocking story of Buck v. Bell, a legal case that challenges our faith in American justice. A gripping courtroom drama, it pits a helpless young woman against powerful scientists, lawyers, and judges who believed that eugenic measures were necessary to save the nation from being “swamped with incompetence.” At the center was Carrie Buck, who was born into a poor family in Charlottesville, Virginia, and taken in by a foster family, until she became pregnant out of wedlock. She was then declared “feebleminded” and shipped off to the Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded. Buck v. Bell unfolded against the backdrop of a nation in the thrall of eugenics, which many Americans thought would uplift the human race. Congress embraced this fervor, enacting the first laws designed to prevent immigration by Italians, Jews, and other groups charged with being genetically inferior. Cohen shows how Buck arrived at the colony at just the wrong time, when influential scientists and politicians were looking for a “test case” to determine whether Virginia’s new eugenic sterilization law could withstand a legal challenge. A cabal of powerful men lined up against her, and no one stood up for her—not even her lawyer, who, it is now clear, was in collusion with the men who wanted her sterilized. In the end, Buck’s case was heard by the Supreme Court, the institution established by the founders to ensure that justice would prevail. The court could have seen through the false claim that Buck was a threat to the gene pool, or it could have found that forced sterilization was a violation of her rights. Instead, Holmes, a scion of several prominent Boston Brahmin families, who was raised to believe in the superiority of his own bloodlines, wrote a vicious, haunting decision upholding Buck’s sterilization and imploring the nation to sterilize many more. Holmes got his wish, and before the madness ended some sixty to seventy thousand Americans were sterilized. Cohen overturns cherished myths and demolishes lauded figures in relentless pursuit of the truth. With the intellectual force of a legal brief and the passion of a front-page exposé, Imbeciles is an ardent indictment of our champions of justice and our optimistic faith in progress, as well as a triumph of American legal and social history.
To become the first female Jewish Supreme Court Justice, the unsinkable Ruth Bader Ginsburg had to overcome countless injustices. Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s and ’40s, Ginsburg was discouraged from working by her father, who thought a woman’s place was in the home. Regardless, she went to Cornell University, where men outnumbered women four to one. There, she met her husband, Martin Ginsburg, and found her calling as a lawyer. Despite discrimination against Jews, females, and working mothers, Ginsburg went on to become Columbia Law School’s first tenured female professor, a judge for the US Court of Appeals, and finally, a Supreme Court Justice. Structured as a court case in which the reader is presented with evidence of the injustice that Ginsburg faced, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the true story of how one of America’s most “notorious” women bravely persevered to become the remarkable symbol of justice she is today.
For two thousand years, constitutional republics assumed class divisions a priori. But as Ganesh Sitaraman reminds us in this exceptionally lucid study, our Constitution, growing as it did out of a society of almost unprecedented economic equality, made no provisions to prevent the upper class from seizing the levers of power, as previous constitutions had. Now that the wealthy are doing just that, Sitaraman argues Americans face a choice- Do we want to live in the kind of equal society our founders always assumed we would, or do we want to adapt our Constitution to fit the kind of inequality they believed America was an exception to? In deciding that question, he reasons, we should be heartened by the fact that we've taken steps to reduce inequality and strengthen the middle class before now, but we can and should take those steps again.
From 1953 to 1969, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren brought about many of the proudest achievements of American constitutional law. The Warren declared racial segregation and laws forbidding interracial marriage to be unconstitutional; it expanded the right of citizens to criticize public officials; it held school prayer unconstitutional; and it ruled that people accused of a crime must be given a lawyer even if they can't afford one. Yet, despite those and other achievements, conservative critics have fiercely accused the justices of the Warren Court of abusing their authority by supposedly imposing their own opinions on the nation. As the eminent legal scholars Geoffrey R. Stone and David A. Strauss demonstrate in Democracy and Equality, the Warren Court's approach to the Constitution was consistent with the most basic values of our Constitution and with the most fundamental responsibilities of our judiciary. Stone and Strauss describe the Warren Court's extraordinary achievements by reviewing its jurisprudence across a range of issues addressing our nation's commitment to the values of democracy and equality. In each chapter, they tell the story of a critical decision, exploring the historical and legal context of each case, the Court's reasoning, and how the justices of the Warren Court fulfilled the Court's most important responsibilities. This powerfully argued evaluation of the Warren Court's legacy, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the end of the Warren Court, both celebrates and defends the Warren Court's achievements against almost sixty-five years of unrelenting and unwarranted attacks by conservatives. It demonstrates not only why the Warren Court's approach to constitutional interpretation was correct and admirable, but also why the approach of the Warren Court was far superior to that of the increasingly conservative justices who have dominated the Supreme Court over the past half-century.
For two years, beginning in 1988, Jonathan Kozol visited schools in neighborhoods across the country, from Illinois to Washington D.C., and from New York to San Antonio. He spoke with teachers, principals, superintendents, and, most important, children. What he found was devastating. Not only were schools for rich and poor blatantly unequal, the gulf between the two extremes was widening—and it has widened since. The urban schools he visited were overcrowded and understaffed, and lacked the basic elements of learning—including books and, all too often, classrooms for the students. In Savage Inequalities, Kozol delivers a searing examination of the extremes of wealth and poverty and calls into question the reality of equal opportunity in our nation's schools.
Here is a bracing deconstruction of the framework for understanding the world that is learned as gospel in Economics 101, regardless of its imaginary assumptions and misleading half-truths. Economism: an ideology that distorts the valid principles and tools of introductory college economics, propagated by self-styled experts, zealous lobbyists, clueless politicians, and ignorant pundits. In order to illuminate the fallacies of economism, James Kwak first offers a primer on supply and demand, market equilibrium, and social welfare: the underpinnings of most popular economic arguments. Then he provides a historical account of how economism became a prevalent mode of thought in the United States—focusing on the people who packaged Econ 101 into sound bites that were then repeated until they took on the aura of truth. He shows us how issues of moment in contemporary American society—labor markets, taxes, finance, health care, and international trade, among others—are shaped by economism, demonstrating in each case with clarity and élan how, because of its failure to reflect the complexities of our world, economism has had a deleterious influence on policies that affect hundreds of millions of Americans.
The New York Times bestselling, groundbreaking investigation of how the global elite's efforts to "change the world" preserve the status quo and obscure their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve. An essential read for understanding some of the egregious abuses of power that dominate today’s news. Former New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas takes us into the inner sanctums of a new gilded age, where the rich and powerful fight for equality and justice any way they can--except ways that threaten the social order and their position atop it. We see how they rebrand themselves as saviors of the poor; how they lavishly reward "thought leaders" who redefine "change" in winner-friendly ways; and how they constantly seek to do more good, but never less harm. We hear the limousine confessions of a celebrated foundation boss; witness an American president hem and haw about his plutocratic benefactors; and attend a cruise-ship conference where entrepreneurs celebrate their own self-interested magnanimity. Giridharadas asks hard questions: Why, for example, should our gravest problems be solved by the unelected upper crust instead of the public institutions it erodes by lobbying and dodging taxes? He also points toward an answer: Rather than rely on scraps from the winners, we must take on the grueling democratic work of building more robust, egalitarian institutions and truly changing the world. A call to action for elites and everyday citizens alike.