A REPUBLIC, IF YOU CAN KEEP IT by Earl Warren

A REPUBLIC, IF YOU CAN KEEP IT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

It was Franklin -- responding to the question ""Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?"" as the 1787 Constitutional Convention prorogued -- who said ""A republic, if you can keep it."" Earl Warren, more than most, knows firsthand the challenge ""keeping it"" entails, and therefore it is only natural that this summing up of his constitutional convictions should stress that our individual liberties are in constant danger of erosion, that they live precariously under the loaded gun of majoritarian ignorance and indifference. Especially alarmed by recent polls and other indicters showing a willingness on the part of many Americans to abrogate personal freedoms in the name of social order, Warren discusses the evolution and development of constitutional liberties, pointing out for example the profound interplay between principles and procedures: ""It is both distressing and short-sighted for so many people to be of the opinion that matters of procedure are simply escape hatches for criminals, or 'mere technicalities.' The truth is that questions which we call procedural are prime essentials in an orderly society."" None of what the former Chief Justice says breaks new ground, but because Warren's Court was pathbreaking and because many of the ideas expressed in this testament are now part of the constitutional law, Court scholars will read it closely, if only for additional clues to his mature judicial philosophy. Moreover, because Warren's style is not complex and his basic aim is educative, these essays might serve as an excellent primer for interested younger students.

Pub Date: April 21st, 1972
Publisher: Quadrangle