THE COURT AND THE CONSTITUTION by Archibald Cox

THE COURT AND THE CONSTITUTION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

By the author of The Warren Court, an evolutionary history of the Supreme Court as ultimate interpreter of the Constitution. The ""Miracle at Philadelphia"" actually began at Runnymede, England, according to Cox. The Convention imposing union upon 13 squabbling sovereignties by means of a federal Constitution was in some ways the logical conclusion of a case that might well be called The English Barons v. King John and a petition known as Magna Carta. From this root derives not only the idea of due process, of a sovereign ""law of the land"" (as against divine right) to which even the most exalted, in theory, are subject, but also ultimately our own Constitution. But the Constitution is not a fixed dispensation--so much Mosaic law forever graved in stone; it is an organic, flexible framework, grounded in the spirit of Anglo. American common taw and necessarily adaptable to the changing needs of changing times. Given this background, Cox illustrates just how the judiciary came to exert, through its power of interpretive review, so singular an influence on American life. Siding squarely with the great liberal tradition of American jurisprudence epitomized by Chief Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes, Felix Frankfurter, and Earl Warren, Cox chronicles the political climates and judicial ramifications of those landmark decisions--school desegregation in Brown v. The Board of Education (1954), abortion in Roe v. Wade (1973)--that have made their influence on the national life irrevocably felt. Gentlemanly in its disagreements, judicious in its findings, this is a learned and lively inquiry into the genius of American constitutionalism by one who has himself played (as the Watergate Special Prosecutor) a historic role in its continuingly dramatic unfolding.

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 1987
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin