Notable Books from the Library’s New Books Collection:

(2nd Floor of Library by the Student Publications entrance)

Harold H. Bruff Untrodden Ground: How Presidents Interpret the Constitution (University of Chicago Press 2015) LAW-New Books JK511.B78 2015

“Everyone knows that the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution. But in this magisterial book, Bruff shows that presidents have played the most important role in interpreting the Constitution over the course of the nation’s history—and have done so in a way that teaches us not just about the presidency but about the nature of the American Constitution itself. Bruff gives us an engaging account of how presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama have used the powers of their office, and anyone who is interested in the Constitution will learn from, and be challenged by, his original and subtle analysis of what our Presidents have done.” – David A. Strauss, University of Chicago Law School

Ian Millhiser Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted (Nation Books) LAW-New Books F8748.M465 2015

Center for American Progress senior constitutional policy analyst Millhiser assesses the damage caused by the Supreme Court to the Constitution, government and the citizens whose rights have repeatedly been curtailed or abrogated in arbitrary, capricious, bigoted and arrogant proceedings. The author’s historical approach presents justices and their cases in the context of the bloody disputes the nation’s highest court was called to adjudicate. He examines how the court helped undermine the results of the Civil War and Reconstruction, as well as its role in stalling the adoption of the Civil Rights Act and other significant political reforms over the decades. Millhiser delineates the tradition from which current decision-making by the Roberts court arises, and he looks at how the court has reversed protections like the Voting Rights Act and obstacles to district gerrymandering. Intriguingly, the author claims that these actions, which reasserted the political primacy of Congress, were more responsible for securing change than the court’s Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision of 1954. Millhiser shows that opponents of Brown were also enemies of the New Deal. He establishes continuity between advocates of enforced separation of the races—e.g., anti-Semite Justice James Clark McReynolds, who “refused to speak to Justice Louis Brandeis for Brandeis’s first three years on the Court because Brandeis was Jewish”—and pro-slavery Chief Justice Melville Fuller, an embittered opponent of Abraham Lincoln and former aide to Stephen Douglas. Fuller’s economic ideology helped produce such decisions as United States v. E.C. Knight Co., which limited the government’s ability to control monopolies, and Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Company, which exempted earnings on capital from federal taxation. Other decisions have prolonged child labor and the oppression of women while expanding arbitrary rights of ownership. An impressive debut offering explanations based on coherence between people, cases and the events they adjudicated. – Kirkus Book Reviews.


 

New and Notable from the New Books Collection

The New Books Collection is located in front of the Reference Desk

Robert A. Ferguson, Inferno: An Anatomy of American Punishment (Harvard U. Press 2014)
LAW-New Books K5103.F47 2014

“This is less a public-policy book than a deeper exploration of what it means to punish… So much of Ferguson’s project is an attempt to bring readers closer to understanding what it’s like to fall into the maw of the justice system—that’s why he has no compunction about bringing in literature (Kafka, Dostoyevsky, and other authors) when nonfiction is too dry or imprecise to do the job. When trying to understand the unimaginable torment of sitting alone in a coffin-like cell for years, or of watching helplessly as one’s execution date creeps closer and closer, sometimes fictions comes closer to capturing these horrors better than any ACLU report ever could. Inferno is a wide-ranging effort that covers many subjects. A section on Cesare Beccaria, an 18th-century thinker and reformer on justice issues, is fascinating… Ferguson’s descriptions of the hell that is solitary confinement (and the arbitrary, capricious manner in which the incarcerated are subjected to it) are powerful… Inferno still stands out as an interesting, intellectually innovative take on a hellish problem.” – Jesse Singal, The Boston Globe

Shon Hopwood, Law Man: My Story of Robbing Banks, Winning Supreme Court Cases and Finding Redemption (Crown 2012)
LAW-New Books KF373.H6413A3 2012

“In the spring of 2003, the phone on Seth Waxman’s desk rang.”Will you accept a call from federal prison?” the caller asked. Waxman sighed. It might have been his fifth prisoner call that day. As the former Solicitor General of the United States and a prominent member of the Supreme Court bar, he was on the must-contact list for those looking for representation before the Court. In almost all of these cases, Waxman wanted to help, but he was just one person. And — whether fair or not — petitions by prisoners stood little chance of capturing the Court’s attention.

But this call, it would turn out, was different. This call was from a prisoner named John Fellers. And not only did Fellers have a case for Waxman, but the Court had already granted this prisoner’s petition. The one he had filed “pro se,” or without a lawyer. The one for which he had filled out an in forma pauperis (“IFP”) request, or a request to waive the customary fees. The one for which he now had no lawyer, because his “lawyer” when he had asked the Court to hear his case had been a fellow inmate, a guy whose prison job was working in the law library, a guy who had no college education and no expertise in anything but robbing banks.

That jailhouse lawyer’s name was Shon Hopwood. And that self-taught “law man” had just achieved the near-impossible – he had written a petition for certiorari (a request for Supreme Court review), filed it in his friend’s name, and received notice from the Supreme Court of the United States that it would hear his case.

The rest of the story is the stuff of movie scripts, blockbuster films starring Matt Damon or Matthew McConaughey. The former Solicitor General of the United States takes the case, but only on the condition that the jailhouse lawyer stay involved. The great Supreme Court advocate wins, calls the jailhouse lawyer and the client in prison, and congratulates them on a great, unanimous, almost unheard-of victory. The jailhouse lawyer gets out of jail, stays in touch with his old mentor, and eventually (with encouragement and backing) goes to law school (UW). And, even while he is in law school, he starts to pay it back. Out of his apartment – with his wife and two young children in the background – he continues to help prisoners who, practically, have little other hope”- Review by Lisa McElroy, Huffington Post Blog.