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.
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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 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. From the Hardcover edition.
The Republicans began plotting their takeover of the Supreme Court thirty years ago. Brett Kavanaugh set his sights on the court right out of law school. Washington Post journalist and legal expert Ruth Marcus goes behind the scenes to document the inside story of how their supreme ambition triumphed. The Kavanaugh drama unfolded so fast in the summer of 2018 it seemed to come out of nowhere. With the power of the #MeToo movement behind her, a terrified but composed Christine Blasey Ford walked into a Senate hearing room to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual assault. This unleashed unprecedented fury from a Supreme Court nominee who accused Democrats of a “calculated and orchestrated political hit.” But behind this showdown was a much bigger one. In Supreme Ambition, Washington Post journalist and legal expert Ruth Marcus goes behind the scenes to document the thirty-year mission by conservatives to win a majority on the Supreme Court and the lifelong ambition of Brett Kavanaugh to secure his place in that victory. In that sense, Marcus has delivered a master class in how Washington works and an unforgettable case study in supreme ambition. The reporting in Supreme Ambition is also full of revealing and weighty headlines, as Marcus answers the most pressing questions surrounding this historical moment: How did Kavanaugh get the nomination? Was Blasey Ford’s testimony credible? What does his confirmation mean for the future of the court? Were the Democrats outgunned from the start? On the way, she uncovers secret White House meetings, intense lobbying efforts, private confrontations on Capitol Hill, and lives forever upended on both coasts. Supreme Ambition is a page-turner that traces how Brett Kavanaugh deftly maneuvered to become the nominee; how he quashed resistance from Republicans who worried he was too squishy on conservative issues and from a president reluctant to reward a George W. Bush loyalist. It shows a Republican party that had concluded Kavanaugh was too big to fail, with senators and the FBI ignoring potentially devastating evidence against him. And it paints a picture of Democratic leaders unwilling to engage in the no-holds-barred partisan warfare that might have defeated the nominee. In the tradition of The Brethren and The Power Broker, Supreme Ambition is the definitive account of a pivotal moment in modern history, one that was thirty years in the making and that will shape the judicial system of America for generations to come.
Leading scholars examine the conflicting paradigms of affluence and destitution in the United States—as well as other free societies—and discuss the influence of education, race, and status on economic mobility.
The inspiring and previously untold history of the women considered—but not selected—for the US Supreme Court In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female justice on the United States Supreme Court after centuries of male appointments, a watershed moment in the long struggle for gender equality. Yet few know about the remarkable women considered in the decades before her triumph. Shortlisted tells the overlooked stories of nine extraordinary women—a cohort large enough to seat the entire Supreme Court—who appeared on presidential lists dating back to the 1930s. Florence Allen, the first female judge on the highest court in Ohio, was named repeatedly in those early years. Eight more followed, including Amalya Kearse, a federal appellate judge who was the first African American woman viewed as a potential Supreme Court nominee. Award-winning scholars Renee Knake Jefferson and Hannah Brenner Johnson cleverly weave together long-forgotten materials from presidential libraries and private archives to reveal the professional and personal lives of these accomplished women. In addition to filling a notable historical gap, the book exposes the tragedy of the shortlist. Listing and bypassing qualified female candidates creates a false appearance of diversity that preserves the status quo, a fate all too familiar for women, especially minorities. Shortlisted offers a roadmap to combat enduring bias and discrimination. It is a must-read for those seeking positions of power as well as for the powerful who select them in the legal profession and beyond.
A Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent with unprecedented access to the inner workings of the U.S. Supreme Court chronicles the personal transformation of a legendary justice From 1970 to 1994, Justice Harry A. Blackmun (1908-1999) wrote numerous landmark Supreme Court decisions, including Roe v. Wade, and participated in the most contentious debates of his era-all behind closed doors. In Becoming Justice Blackmun, Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times draws back the curtain on America's most private branch of government and reveals the backstage story of the Supreme Court through the eyes and writings of this extraordinary justice. Greenhouse was the first print reporter to have access to Blackmun's extensive archive and his private and public papers. From this trove she has crafted a compelling narrative of Blackmun's years on the Court, showing how he never lost sight of the human beings behind the legal cases and how he was not afraid to question his own views on such controversial issues as abortion, the death penalty, and sex discrimination. Greenhouse also tells the story of how Blackmun's lifelong friendship with Chief Justice Warren E. Burger withered in the crucible of life on the nation's highest court, revealing how political differences became personal, even for the country's most respected jurists. Becoming Justice Blackmun, written by America's preeminent Supreme Court reporter, offers a rare and wonderfully vivid portrait of the nation's highest court, including insights into many of the current justices. It is a must-read for everyone who cares about the Court and its impact on our lives.
A revolutionary new argument from eminent Yale Law professor Daniel Markovits attacking the false promise of meritocracy It is an axiom of American life that advantage should be earned through ability and effort. Even as the country divides itself at every turn, the meritocratic ideal – that social and economic rewards should follow achievement rather than breeding – reigns supreme. Both Democrats and Republicans insistently repeat meritocratic notions. Meritocracy cuts to the heart of who we are. It sustains the American dream. But what if, both up and down the social ladder, meritocracy is a sham? Today, meritocracy has become exactly what it was conceived to resist: a mechanism for the concentration and dynastic transmission of wealth and privilege across generations. Upward mobility has become a fantasy, and the embattled middle classes are now more likely to sink into the working poor than to rise into the professional elite. At the same time, meritocracy now ensnares even those who manage to claw their way to the top, requiring rich adults to work with crushing intensity, exploiting their expensive educations in order to extract a return. All this is not the result of deviations or retreats from meritocracy but rather stems directly from meritocracy’s successes. This is the radical argument that Daniel Markovits prosecutes with rare force. Markovits is well placed to expose the sham of meritocracy. Having spent his life at elite universities, he knows from the inside the corrosive system we are trapped within. Markovits also knows that, if we understand that meritocratic inequality produces near-universal harm, we can cure it. When The Meritocracy Trap reveals the inner workings of the meritocratic machine, it also illuminates the first steps outward, towards a new world that might once again afford dignity and prosperity to the American people.
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.
[F]rom the moment one man began to stand in need of another's assistance; from the moment it appeared an advantage for one man to possess the quantity of provisions requisite for two, all equality vanished; property started up; labour became necessary; and boundless forests became smiling fields, which it was found necessary to water with human sweat, and in which slavery and misery were soon seen to sprout out and grow with the fruits of the earth. -from "Second Part" Was man better off before he invented "civil society"? From where does social inequality spring? Did the development of agriculture and technology doom most of humanity to an everlasting enslavement to the tiny minority of the wealthy and the strong? This 1754 essay, written in response to concepts of the "natural man" developed by philosopher Thomas Hobbes, explores such ideas, radical at the time and still considered such today. Rousseau's thoughts continue to be echoed, however, in modern philosophical movements from feminism to environmentalism, and ensure that his examination of the history of human civilization, in its broadest sense, remains vital today. Swiss philosopher JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU (1712-1778) was a dramatic influence on the French revolution, 19th-century communism, the American Founding Fathers, and much modern political thought. His works include Discourse on the Arts and Sciences (1750), Discourse on Political Economy (1755), and The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Right (1762).