OF POWER AND RIGHT by Howard Ball

OF POWER AND RIGHT

Hugo Black, William O. Douglas, and America's Constitutional Revolution

KIRKUS REVIEW

 An intelligent and thorough assessment of the legacy of the Supreme Court's famous liberals. Ball (Political Science/Univ. of Vermont; Justice Downwind, 1986) and Cooper (Political Science/SUNY at Albany) skillfully weave biographies with analyses of the Court's evolution on such issues as First Amendment rights, due process, and racial equality. Hugo Black and William O. Douglas, the authors explain, were culturally and temperamentally opposite yet ideologically similar. Black--backwoods Alabama lawyer, police-court judge, and wily politician who never earned a college degree--and Douglas-- respected Ivy League law professor and crusading SEC chairman- -shared a populist-progressive orientation and a commitment to FDR's New Deal. Ball and Cooper point out that Black and Douglas were ``at the epicenter of an `extraordinary revolution in constitutional law.' '' While the authors recognize the similarities between the two, they also emphasize the differences- -Black was a constitutional literalist who read the Bill of Rights narrowly and regarded judicial activism with horror, while Douglas believed that courts should not shrink from overt policy-making in the cause of protecting personal liberty. The creative tension between Black's emphasis on the people's power to govern and Douglas's emphasis on individual rights engendered many doctrines of constitutional law that retain vitality today. The authors' discussion of their subjects' often acrimonious conflicts with their conservative brethren--particularly Felix Frankfurter, Harlan Fiske Stone, and John Marshall Harlan--also helps to illuminate the political pressures that mold our constitutional law. A thoughtful study of an abiding constitutional legacy. (Twenty halftones--not seen.)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-19-504612-9
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1991