The Courage of Their Convictions: Sixteen Americans Who Fought Their Way to the Supreme Court

Overview

An "extraordinary book reveal[ing] the live faces behind the masks of constitutional law; to read it is to understand the inner dynamics of law's outward development."—Laurence H. Tribe.

Peter Irons introduces 16 Americans who had the courage and perseverance to pursue a belief in their constitutional rights all the way to the Surpreme Court. Their cases, decided by the Surpreme Court between 1940 and 1986, raise four major issues ...

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Overview

An "extraordinary book reveal[ing] the live faces behind the masks of constitutional law; to read it is to understand the inner dynamics of law's outward development."—Laurence H. Tribe.

Peter Irons introduces 16 Americans who had the courage and perseverance to pursue a belief in their constitutional rights all the way to the Surpreme Court. Their cases, decided by the Surpreme Court between 1940 and 1986, raise four major issues of our time -- religion, race, protest, and privacy.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140128109
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/28/1990
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.79 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Irons is professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of five previous award-winning books. The most recent, A People's History of the Supreme Court, was awarded the Silver Gavel Certificate of Merit by the American Bar Association.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Prologue
"Emotions Bubble and Tempers Flare"

1. Lillian Gobitis v. Minersville School District
I. "We Live by Symbols"
II. "Here Comes Jehovah!"

2. Gordon Hirabayashi v. United States
I. "A Jap 's a Jap"
II. "Am I an American?"

3. J.D. Shelley v. Louis Kraemer
I. "This Contract of Restrictions"
II. "I Ain't Moving Nowhere!"

4. Lloyd Barenblatt v. United States
I. "This Is Not a Court"
II. "All They Wanted Were Names!"

5. Daisy Bates v. Little Rock
I. "Let's Pop 'Em!"
II. "Stone This Time, Dynamite Next!"

6. Robert Mack Bell v. Maryland
I. "I'm at the Mercy of My Customers"
II. "Baptism by Fire"

7. Daniel Seeger v. United States
I. "A Truthful, Decent Young Citizen"
II. "Check Box Yes, Check Box No"

8. Barbara Elfbrandt v. Imogene Russell
I. "Those Whose Scruples Are the Most Sensitive"
II. "What We Were All About"

9. Susan Epperson v. Arkansas
I. "Somewhere in Heaven, John Scopes Is Smiling"
II. "Teaching in the Bible Belt"

10. Mary Beth Tinker v. Des Moines
I. "Take a Stand! That's What You're Here For!"
II. "I'm Going to Kill You!"

11. Dr. Jane Hodgson v. Minnesota
I. "I Couldn't Make a Child Suffer"
II. "This Was Lousy Medicine"

12. Demetrio Rodriguez v. San Antonio
I. "The Poor People Have Lost Again"
II. "Education Is the Best Thing"

13. Jo Carol LaFleur v. Cleveland Board of Education
I. "There Is No Harm in Climbing Stairs"
II. "Go Home and Have Your Baby"

14. Elmer Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc.
I. "A Good Reputation as a Lawyer"
II. "I'm a Legal Landmark"

15. Ishmael Jaffree v. George Wallace
I. "My God, What's Wrong with That Man?"
II. "Tell Them About My Children"

16. Michael Hardwick v. Michael Bowers
I. "I Saw a Bedroom Door Partially Open"
II. "What Are You Doing in My Bedroom?"

Epilogue
"Doesn't Anybody Remember the Spanish Inquisition?"

Postscript

Sources and Further Readings

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2003

    This book illustrates why we need a Supreme Court

    I found the book interesting reading. The details of 16 cases of individuals who stood up for their rights all the way to the Supreme Court could have been very dry reading, but each section has both a chapter relating the history of a case followed by a chapter describing the defendant's experience in his or her own words, which brought it to life. The stories in this book are a reminder of the important role the Supreme Court has taken in defending the individual freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, especially in times (like these) when fear and prejudice have swept the country and our democracy has deteriorated into mere majority rule - resulting in actions like racial segregation, internment camps for Japanese Americans, and inquisitions by the House Un-American Activities Committee. My favorite quote in the book was from the dissenting judge when a defendant lost his Supreme Court case against the HUAC. It's a comment that is chillingly relevant to what is happening today. In 1959, Justice Hugo Black said, 'Ultimately all the questions in this case really boil down to one - whether we as a people will try fearfully and futilely to preserve democracy through totalitarian methods, or whether in accordance with our traditions and our Constitution we will have the confidence and courage to be free.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2002

    Bias?...."No! Say it ain't so!"

    I agree wholeheartedly that this book is VERY biased. However, in it's defense, it is titled "Sixteen Americans who FOUGHT their way to the Supreme Court" doesn't that imply a David and Goliath perspective of these historical cases? I liked how each case was split into two sections, a historical overview, and a more personal, narrative telling. I admit though, as I am a die hard camp counselor, whenever my kids wouldn't go to sleep at night, I would read them a case or two and they'd fall asleep immediately...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2000

    Inspiring and All-American

    There is an incredibly legacy in the tales of these sixteen. I started reading it in the store and couldn't put it down. Each story is individual and different, but the common thread is the determination and the power of their convictions and sacrifice. Whoever reads this can't help but be inspired.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 1999

    Liberal, Liberal, Liberal

    Had to read this book as a summer assignment for my AP Government class. It was possibly the most biased book I have ever read. It could have been written by the ACLU itself.

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