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Customer Review

on 8 January 2011
The author wrote a book on the Supreme Court justices that was appointed during the New Deal era of President F.D. Roosevelt. During his unprecedented time in office President Roosevelt was able to appoint eight of the nine justices to the highest bench in the land. Of the nine supreme court justices and those who they replaced are all briefly mentioned. But the author focuses on four of what he considers the most fascinating or influential of the sitting justices of their time. These four are justices Hugo Black, Robert Jackson, Felix Frankfurter, and William Douglas.

The author did rely on some secondary sources yet this is a well written account of the individuals that made up the supreme court and how they were able to parley their relationship with Roosevelt into a seat on the Supreme Court. The four focused on all in their own way supported the New Deal Agenda that the president wanted to implement. We read how these four liberals relationships grew and changed over time and most interesting the inner-workings of the supreme court and the tensions between personalities and ambitions that existed. From the New Deal era through World War II and to their climatic decision on Brown vs. Board of Education decision.

Though all four were considered liberals when appointed each had his own convictions which formed their core beliefs. These justices in their methods of constitutional jurisprudence did not change their own core views; the country view on what was liberal is what changed based on their decisions. And the man who started as the most liberal man on the court became what today is called conservative even though he stayed true to his intellectual beliefs in constitutional law. These differences lead to robust debates that lead to their votes and supporting their individual positions.

The author discusses some of the cases that involved these justices. As one would expect some they agreed on and on many their viewed differed due to the aforementioned differing views on how the constitution should be interpreted and or applied. Frankfurter and Jackson were proponents of judicial restraint while Douglas and Black espoused a more active and aggressive judicial view. The ramifications of their judicial activism change the country and their decisions still affect people to this very day. These four great ambitious men would never be able to pass a senate confirmation hearing in today's politically correct world and one wonders if men of their conviction, intellect, ambition and flaws will ever sit on the high court again.
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