CHIEF JUSTICE by Ed Cray

CHIEF JUSTICE

A Biography of Earl Warren

KIRKUS REVIEW

 An informative, comprehensive, easy to read biography of the great and good chief justice who, during the mid-20th century, changed the visage of American law, by Cray (General of the Army: George C. Marshall, Soldier and Statesman, 1990, etc.). Light on legal analysis, this is a serviceable supplement for those already familiar with the man, and an accessible introduction for those unacquainted with the work of Earl Warren. The imminency of the next century presents a particularly timely hour to remember and reassess the man who, as chief justice of the Supreme Court from 1953 through 1969, led a reform not simply of American law but of American social morality. As Cray aptly notes, ``for millions of Americans, the chief justice had come to embody the promise of a nation of truly equal peoples.'' Cray provides a detailed account of Warren's life as family man, lawyer, politician, reform-minded district attorney, attorney general of California, progressive three-term governor of California, and, finally, chief justice. He does not overlook Warren's flaws: As attorney general of California he supervised the internment of Japanese-Americans in that state during WW II. Appropriately, Cray devotes chapters to the pivotal rulings of the ``Warren Court,'' including the school desegregation decisions, protection against coerced confessions and unreasonable searches by the police, the ban on government-sponsored prayer in public schools, and the right of privacy. The passing of the Warren era brought a new Supreme Court, less sensitive to individual rights and substantially less suspicious of the propensity of government to misuse its power. In contrast, Cray's thorough and respectful account reminds us of how one person's courage, integrity, and vision helped fulfill the Constitution's promise of liberty and dignity. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Book-of-the-Month Club main selection)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-80852-8
Page count: 592pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1997




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