Passionate, intelligent, accessible, and eloquent. If only the real court would follow suit.




Justice, for a day.

Balkin’s concept is so brilliantly obvious that it’s amazing no one’s tried it before: He’s snared nine prominent legal academics, given them a politically juicy case (Brown v. Board of Education, which declared school segregation unconstitutional), limited them to the materials available in 1954, and told them to come up with the opinions they would have produced if they’d been members of the Court. The resulting pastiche is, for the most part, invigorating. Freed by the anachronism of mid-century role-playing, the eminent professors who write here are forced actually to write. The three judges from Yale—Balkin, former Solicitor General Drew Days, and media hound Bruce Ackerman—concur and form the plurality. Their opinions, commonly rooted in a revival of the “citizenship” and “privileges and immunities” clauses of the 14th Amendment, are very much Yale opinions: brilliant, subtle, technically masterful, and totally divorced from reality. The old-line liberals—Frank Michelman. John Hart Ely, and feminist Catharine MacKinnon—take a different approach: they skip over legal niceties and resort to overarching “principles,” whether of equal membership in the civil community, anti-subordination, or the simple conviction that the “separate but equal” rationale of Plessy v. Ferguson is wrong. The last three stray furthest from the opinion of the Court. Michael McConnell strives to locate an intent to desegregate among the ratifiers of the 14th Amendment themselves, but his historical approach ultimately feels forced, a case of ideology shoved before reason. Cass Sunstein, to general embarrassment, tries to revive the concept of substantive due process. But it’s Derrick Bell, the sole dissenter, who provides the real fireworks. Bell, who supervised the NAACP’s school desegregation cases for five years, identifies Brown as a dead end, a piece of conceptual wallpaper that overestimates the power of law and understates the depth and pervasiveness of racism. His solution sounds more realistic than anything the rest of the judiciary has come up with.

Passionate, intelligent, accessible, and eloquent. If only the real court would follow suit.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8147-9889-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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