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That the Supreme Court decision of May 1954 which awarded the case to plaintiff Oliver Brown can only be understood in its full historical and conceptual context is the thesis of this excellent, impartial analysis. The history of the issues at large, predating the Civil War, constitutes a pattern of which the recent decision is an outgrowth. The Dred Scott, Gaines, Plessy and other pertinent cases provide an indispensable guide to the meaning of the case. The authors discuss the Nine Men of the Court -- their political orientation, their experience, their intellectual origins and their previous records. The weight accorded to the authority of the social scientists and not the biologists is noted. But the scope of the case demands an uncompromising study not only of the particulars but of the judicial process itself and its implications. What is the proper office of the Supreme Court? Is it an explorer of latent meanings in the Constitution which can be applied to specific problems not mentioned there? Or is it a creator of law by virtue of its power de facto to establish precedent? Did Brown v. Board of Education (or, School Segregation Cases) pertain to fundamental civil liberties or was its delegation to the Federal court an encroachment on states' rights? Given the limitations of any enduring statute (its non-specific character) what kinds of evidence are invested in its interpretation...custom, scientific authority, intention of the statute's designer? The ""whether"" or ""why"" questions were settled by the proclamation that ""separate but equal"" facilities were inherently unequal but the ""how"" question still sustains the national maelstrom which might keynote the book for wide consumption. It is stimulating and scholarly but not obscure.

Publisher: Rutgers Univ. Press