JOHN MARSHALL HARLAN: Great Dissenter of the Warren Court by Tinsley E. Yarbrough

JOHN MARSHALL HARLAN: Great Dissenter of the Warren Court

KIRKUS REVIEW

Yarbrough (Political Science/Fast Carolina Univ.) offers the first major--and excellent--biography of one of the Warren Court's most interesting and brilliant figures. John Marshall Harlan (1899-1971) was a ""lawyer's lawyer."" Educated at Princeton and Oxford, he quickly rose to become one of the nation's leading corporate litigators. Yarbrough shows how the justice's life and thought were shaped by his legacy as the son of a prominent lawyer and grandson of the first Justice John Marshall Harlan (who, like his namesake, was also known for his judicial dissent, mostly for his famous finding in Plessy v. Ferguson, in which the Supreme Court created the ""separate but equal"" formula that legitimized racially discriminatory practices). On the famously liberal and activist Warren Court, Yarbrough explains, Harlan, who sat on the Supreme Court from 1955 until his death, stood out for his closely reasoned commitment to strict constitutional construction, federalism, judicial restraint, and deference to legislative determination. These principles often resulted in vigorous dissents. Harlan's position as the ""great dissenter"" of the Warren Court has often led to dismissal of his views as well reasoned but without influence. Harlan's philosophy has become increasingly important in recent years, however, as the Court has become more conservative (for instance, as Yarbrough points out, David Souter in his Senate confirmation testimony cited Harlan as his judicial role model). An absorbing and scholarly analysis of one of the Supreme Court's truly great jurists.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0195060903
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press