Author: Alpheus Thomas Mason. During the past half century the Supreme Court has been a storm center of controversy. Since 1920 the Court has shattered precedent after precedent and has leveled a number of social, political, and economic landmarks. This perceptive study of the Court during that period received much critical acclaim when it was published in 1958 and revised ten years later. In this third edition, Alpheus Thomas Mason, one of the countrys leading authorities on the Court, updates his survey to include some of the most dramatic events in its history. In a new preface, Mason sets the tone for his treatment of the Burger Court, saying, One thing seems certain: never before has the Supreme Court put its constitutional fingers in so many social, cultural, and political pies. The irony is that four of its present members were elected as strict constructionist.
Mason examines the dicta of various justices against the background of the times and the issues with which they were concerned: the judicial slaughter of legislation in the early thirties and Roosevelts retaliatory courtpacking attempt in 1937, judicially sanctioned federal interference in economic affairs, the bitterly contested integration decisions in 1954, and the explosive rulings of the 1960s supporting federal intervention in the fields of education, representation, and criminal justice.
Mason also covers Earl Warrens resignation as Chief Justice, the Senates refusal to confirm Johnsons nomination of Abe Fortas for Chief Justice and Fortas later resignation under political pressure, the failure of two Nixon nomineesHaynesworth and Carswellto receive Senate endorsement, the impeachment proceedings initiated against William O. Douglas, Nixons avowal to reverse the Warren Courts protection of civil rights and liberties by appointing a law and order Court, and the implications of the Stanford Daily and Bakke cases.
Professor Masons insight into the peculiar nature of the judicial function brings a deeper understanding of the Court as a creative force in American life.