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Justice for All: Earl Warren and the Nation He Made
 
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Justice for All: Earl Warren and the Nation He Made [Format Kindle]

Jim Newton

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Los Angeles Times editor and reporter Newton delivers the definitive biography of Earl Warren (1891–1974) for this generation. Newton's masterful narrative synthesizes Warren in all his contradictory guises: the dynamic and outsized California prosecutor and attorney general whose own father's mysterious murder perhaps derived from that ambitious career; the man of great liberal instinct who (as a three-term Republican governor of California) insisted on the internment of Japanese-Americans following Pearl Harbor; and the hard-driving Supreme Court chief justice (1953–1969) who'd never sat on a bench anywhere, but nevertheless shepherded such historic decisions as that in Brown v. Board of Education. It was also under Warren that the Court articulated the constitutional right to privacy, abolished prayer in public schools, clarified and guaranteed voting rights for minorities and created a right to counsel in state criminal trials. As well, Warren served as head of the commission bearing his name and charged with examining the Kennedy assassination—an exercise Newton reveals as to have been part investigation, part experiment in public relations and damage control. In the course of his research, Newton has garnered extensive interviews with Warren's surviving colleagues and children, and uncovered significant new archival sources, all of which he marshals to great effect. For the first time, Newton portrays an intricately complex Warren who—though liberal in his interpretations of the Constitution and progressive in his agenda for America—remained far from radical in other respects. Using testimony of insiders who knew the man well, Newton brilliantly depicts the many-sided Warren as ferociously ambitious, smartly calculating in advancing his career, prickly and contrary when challenged and eminently attracted to both wealth and power. As Newton shows, the ardent judicial defender of the dispossessed summered at California's Bohemian Grove and made a point of dying a rich man. Warren, writes Newton, "was no Eldridge Cleaver," despite rhetoric by contemporary conservatives who routinely invoke him as the poster boy for "bad behavior" in the form of liberal judicial activism. (Oct. 5)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com

This is a good time for a reexamination of the late Supreme Court chief justice Earl Warren. The recent appointment of a new chief justice, John G. Roberts Jr., raises the question of what makes an effective chief. And Roberts's rejection of the freewheeling pursuit of justice and fairness that Warren represented makes it useful to ask whether Warren deserves to be ranked among the handful of chiefs who have been considered an unequivocal success.

In his excellent new biography, Jim Newton, a reporter and editor for the Los Angeles Times, argues that Warren was indeed among the greatest chiefs in history precisely because there was little divergence between his politics and his jurisprudence. As the Republican governor of California from 1943 to 1953, he had been a centrist progressive who devoted himself to building consensus among ideological opponents; on the court, he did much the same thing. Although not all readers will share Newton's admiration for Warren's jurisprudence, Justice for All argues convincingly that the most effective chiefs are the most politically savvy -- and are more concerned about unanimity and consensus than about ideological purity.

Although President Dwight D. Eisenhower expressed disappointment in Warren's judicial apostasy after appointing him in 1953, he should hardly have been surprised. In Sacramento, Warren was known as a liberal moralist who ended discrimination against Mexican schoolchildren, opposed loyalty oaths at the University of California, infuriated the state's medical establishment by championing universal health insurance, and opposed gambling and vice. During World War II, he had supported the relocation of Japanese aliens from the coast to internment camps -- a position he came to regret -- but otherwise defended civil liberties.

Throughout his life, Warren detested his fellow California Republican Richard M. Nixon -- Warren and President John F. Kennedy giggled like schoolboys on Air Force One after Nixon's gubernatorial defeat in 1962 -- and denounced the red-baiting illiberalism that Nixon embodied. When he joined the court in 1953, Warren considered himself an activist nonpartisan, despite having run for vice president as a Republican in 1948. He was a self-described liberal, at least on social issues, and far more progressive on race than the Southern Democrats of his era.

As chief justice, Warren had little hesitation about acting in the same way he had as governor. Guided above all by his personal instincts, and by his quest for what his fellow moderate Republican lawyer Leonard Garment called "nontechnical justice," Warren moved quickly to persuade his new colleagues to embrace his vision. Warren's greatest success came right away in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Newton describes how Warren worked the high court like a canny politician, seeking out his colleagues for advice rather than trying heavy-handedly to impose his will, and in the process persuading them to join a unanimous opinion striking down school segregation.

Warren wrote some of the most famous passages in Brown in his own hand. But for much of his tenure, he delegated most of the writing to his clerks, giving them broad guidance about his vision of fairness and justice and not fussing about the technical details. This emotionalism sometimes made his jurisprudence seem unprincipled, despite his purported devotion to principle. Warren's draft opinion in the case requiring police to read suspects their Miranda rights, Newton acknowledges, seemed "nearly as much the work of a governor as that of a justice." And Warren opposed the burning of draft cards in 1968 but supported students' right to curse the draft in 1969, apparently because his nemesis, Nixon, had won the 1968 presidential election and Warren had turned against the war. At times, his tendency to view all legal issues in personal and human terms seemed jarringly political.

Newton's subtitle -- "Earl Warren and the Nation He Made" -- suggests that Warren single-handedly transformed the country by imposing his enlightened vision of humane, nontechnical justice on a divided America. But Newton's scrupulous narrative points to a more subtle conclusion: Warren was most successful when the White House and Congress supported his vision and less successful when the political branches opposed him. Because Eisenhower hardly concealed his distaste for the Brown decision in 1954, meaningful desegregation didn't occur until a decade later; by contrast, some states reluctantly obeyed the decision striking down school prayer in 1962 largely because President Kennedy unequivocally endorsed it. As a practical politician, Warren understood that the court is powerless in the face of strong political opposition.

Because the hearty, wholesome Warren was a somewhat bland figure, Newton's biography is necessarily less colorful than biographies of judicial rakes such as justices William O. Douglas and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. And readers who prefer more analysis of Warren's decisions may prefer earlier biographies by the legal scholars Bernard Schwartz and G. Edward White. But because Warren's personal experiences were so inseparable from his jurisprudence, Newton's comprehensive and balanced political history usefully cuts through the technical details and casts fresh light on Warren's legacy.

Newton ends his book by lamenting that Warren's centrism has little political constituency today: "Too straight and too Establishment to fit a liberal model, too devoted to an expansive civil libertarianism for conservatives to honor him, Warren falls between our modern cracks," he writes. "The nation today -- certainly the Court -- is less fortunate not to have one of him." In fact, Warren may indeed have a modern heir: the centrist activist Anthony M. Kennedy, who played at Warren's feet as a child and shares his fellow Californian's faith in the ability of enlightened judges to run the country by short-circuiting messy political debates. But Kennedy lacks Warren's greatest skill: his ability to build coalitions on the court and to win over ideological opponents by skillful persuasion. That is a talent that Chief Justice Roberts, who has made it a priority to promote unanimity and consensus, seems to have in abundance. And in that sense, despite their very different visions of the role of the court in American life, Warren and Roberts may have more in common than either of them could have imagined.

Reviewed by Jeffrey Rosen
Copyright 2006, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.


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Amazon.com: 4.8 étoiles sur 5  23 commentaires
19 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Still drafting in his wake 19 février 2007
Par Lawrence Meyer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Earl Warren's is a biography that pays revisiting, especially now that the political center he represented is so thin and the political virtues he practiced so derided. He was an uncomplicated, direct, and plain-spoken man who nevertheless, as Chief Justice, produced astonishing results. Brown vs. the Board of Education provided the essential legal fulcrum of the Civil Rights movement that transformed America in the last half of the 20th century. Perhaps this simplicity and clear vision was the key to his effectiveness.

How to explain the contradictions in Warren's life? Eisenhower was famously unhappy with his appointee. Warren, as Chief Justice, took positions that contradicted what Warren himself, as a District Attorney and Governor, had in fact practiced. No wonder Ike was pole-axed by the Chief Justice he got. The answer seems to be that Warren focused on using the tools each office provided to advance a consistent philosophy, equal justice for all.

Also interesting is the counterpoint and interplay of the careers of Warren and Richard Nixon. Nixon plainly drafted in Warren's wake and converted to the uses of his ambition political capital Warren had accumulated, especially when he crawled over Warren's presidential ambitions to secure the nomination as Vice-President. Yet two politicians were never more dissimilar than Warren and Nixon, the one open, natural, sociable, and comfortable in his skin, the other so contrived and fabricated as to stand for the least likely politician in recent history. But Nixon feigned the virtues Warren possessed in abundance: another way he drafted in Warren's wake. When Nixon hid lies and inconsistencies behind prefaces that he was about to make things "perfectly clear," he aped only Warren's political prose, not Warren's philosophy.

Jim Newton is a writer Warren would have enjoyed talking to and might have hired as a speechwriter. His prose is direct and his explanations of otherwise thorny and obscure legal issues easily penetrable. Warren deserves a better and grander reputation than he has merited at the hands of the neo-conservatives who have taken over the Court and Court punditry. Newton is an able advocate for a reappraisal. Warren did much more good for the county than serve as the exemplar of evil judicial activism. Absent Warren would Clarence Thomas today be on the Supreme Court? Perhaps the only irony of Warren's career is that so few followed in his footsteps, but so many neo-Nixons are still drafting in his wake.
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great Learning Opportunity 1 février 2008
Par Howard Wexler - Publié sur Amazon.com
Achat vérifié
I rarely give a 5-star review on a book. This one gets one for a stack of reasons.

When I finish a biography, I ask myself if I feel like I know the person. I feel I know Warren.

Another reason to like this book, it makes no bones about Warren's bad decisions, his support of the uprooting of Japanese in California in 1941. The author is not shy about criticizing Earl Warren.

Finally, I am a layman. It is a tough task to explain complex legal decisions to a non-lawyer. But Newton does it quite well.

One other thought: After all the learning I did by reading this book, it makes me quite critical of any and all the "teachers" I had in government and American History. They could not teach a politician to steal.
16 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A Towering Figure 8 décembre 2006
Par John P Bernat - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Earl Warren stands over the American twentieth century like few other figures. As an odd proof for this statement, my Exhibit A is Roe v. Wade.

The "Warren Court" became so noted for judicial liberality and activism that any Supreme Court decisions which seemed to expand civil rights quickly became associated with it. So many decisions "created" rights for each citizen (such as the imputed "right" to privacy).

However, it was the Burger Court, not the Warren Court, that decided Roe v. Wade. This book points that out, but it also offers many other qonderful insights into Earl Warren.

His leadership style and ability is best characterized by "doggedness." Very often, he achieved Court majorities (and in many cases unanimous decisions) by sheer persistence with his colleagues. Jim Newton speculates that this is because of his Swedish ethnic heritage.

I regard that as an invidious stereotype. I'd prefer to think that Warren's drive came from an innate and constant spirit to struggle for what is right, regardless of prevailing sentiment and political obstacles.

What the book offers great appreciation for is how our society could have looked if Warren had never existed. Warren's court upheld the 1964 Civil Rights Act and so much other civil rights era legislation. There were strong legal arguments against this expansion of federal power, yet few today, in hindsight, would argue that we'd have been better off without the federal government's role in civil rights.

It's a great book about a great man.
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A masterpiece 11 avril 2007
Par Jon Hunt - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Jim Newton's biography of Earl Warren, "Justice for All", is a comprehensive and richly written book about one of the great Chief Justices in our nation's history. Warren, a moderately conservative man in temperament, style and often idea, led the Court through one of the most tumultuous times in recent memory. Revered and reviled as he might have been, his legacy is certainly one of notable accomplishments and Newton captures it well.

The author presents Earl Warren in a generally favorable light, reminding us of some of his catastrophic decisions, too....especially his support for the internment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War. For a moderate, almost non-partisan Republican, Warren had terrific success as governor of California propelling him into the national limelight with only one real political miscalculation of consequence...his agreeing to be Thomas Dewey's Vice Presidential running mate in 1948. Here begins the real fascinating part of Newton's book...politics. Whether it was Earl Warren's tenure as governor, or later dealing with the many presidents he knew or the intricacies of the personalities on the Court, Newton is terrific at describing political process. As Warren was a Republican it was interesting to read that the three Republicans he knew who were or would become president...Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford....were ones with whom Warren had the most troubles. (The descriptions of Richard Nixon add some good humor to the book!) The Chief Justice thought the most highly of President Kennedy, we learn, and he at least got along reasonably well with Lyndon Johnson.

There are many court cases, of course, cited in this book. They are fascinating to read about, especially how often slim majorities hung in the balance, finally decided by Earl Warren's persuasive powers. Newton speaks a great deal about Warren's family and this is much to his credit...so often in these biographies families are put on the back shelf. Here, they are front and center. If I had one small negative thing to say it would be that as the book progresses the author's fondness for his subject becomes much more apparent. "Justice for All" never approaches a hagiography, but occasionally it appears headed in that direction. Other than that, Jim Newton has written a superlative book and I highly recommend it for two reasons....to remind those of us who remember Earl Warren of his towering presence as Chief Justice and for those too young to remember him but who want to learn more.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 This Book Brought Back a Lot of Memoies. 23 août 2008
Par James Barton Phelps - Publié sur Amazon.com
This book brought back a lot of memories for me - Warren as our Attorney General who sent the Japanese to the camps in 1942, as our Governor for 11 years, a good governor, a decent man, well respected, pretty much middle of the road with good appointments, my old friend Bill Sweigert being one of them. Earl Warren at Isle Aves in the Bohemian Grove in the early sixties, or in the sorority houses for lunch before a Cal game in the forties, a large genial man, unprepossessing, pleasant.

Then too there are the memories of the sixties when the "Warren Court" was the bane of the conservatives and "Impeach Earl Warren" signs were abundant in California, particularly in the Los Angeles area and in the South where the end of segregation had not yet been accepted, when we were shocked by some of its decisions restricting recognized police procedures. The Court did, as they said, "go too far into `freeing' the bad guys". I remember being particularly upset by two decisions - Roth and New York Times v Sullivan - which I felt then (and still feel) went too far in freeing the press from any reasonable responsibility for pornography or slander or libel. Particularly shocking was Griswold v Connecticut where, in a passage which will live as the high-watermark of judicial doublespeak, Justice Douglas found that the Bill of Rights had "penumbras" from which flowed "emanations' wherein could be found a right of privacy embedded in the Bill of Rights. And he found it , thus setting the stage for Roe v Wade a year or so later - a decision which almost every constitutional scholar now believes was wrongly decided and which set off a divisive national controversy which has split the country for forty years.

All this and much more is in this remarkable, well researched, highly readable 525 page biography written by Jim Newton a seasoned reporter for the Los Angeles Times and the former long time head of its Editorial Board. I had not realized what a dominating figure Earl Warren was to twentieth century of American politics - in fact how influential he as been over-all in the formation of our society. I can think of no Justice apart from Chief Justice Marshall who has been more of an influence in he Court. Nor can I think of a President - apart from Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and maybe Andrew Jackson - who has been a greater influence on American society. History will view him as truly one of our "greats". But he didn't start that way.

Earl Warren was first and foremost a Californian. He was born to working class parents in Los Angeles in 1891 and died in 1974 a age 83 in Washington where, far from California, he lies honored in Arlington Cemetery as a World War I soldier and one of the greatest of the great Americans.

His was a rather mundane career until he became Governor in 1942. He had an undistinguished career at the University of California and Boalt Law School, had been an infantryman without combat in the War, tried private practice briefly, didn't like it and then in the twenties went into the District Attorney's office in Oakland. He became a respected District Attorney, served several terms, became well known in Republican circles but to the end of his days remained a prosecutor, but a fair one. You don't have to be a tyrant to be a prosecutor. The essence of prosecution is to be fair. This differs from the essence of the defense, which is to get the best deal. possible for a guilty client. Fairness has nothing to do with it.

He was Attorney General of California from 1938-42 and then served three terms as Governor, being selected as Chief Justice of he United States by President Eisenhower in 1953, three years into his third term as Governor.

I don't think this brief review is the place to touch on all that he did as Governor or as Chief Justice. That's why you should read the book. Suffice it to say that he proved to be as collaborative as Chief Justice as he was as Governor. He was always a consensus builder, a talent without which we might not be where we are today.

His accomplishments? His Court ended racial segregation (Brown v Board of Education of Topeka Kansas), almost as important a decision as Marbury v Madison. The country can't segregate public facilities, nor can it reapportion or redistrict or gerrymander geography so as to deny blacks equal representation (Boynton v Virginia, Baker v Carr.) Every man has one vote (Wesberry v Sabdes). You can' have race-based elections (Gemellion).

His Court severely limited the then current police practices - too
much so in the opinion of many, including mine. A policeman can't stop a car or a person for questioning without reason to suspect that person of unlawful behavior by articulable evidence - not a hunch - real evidence (Terry v Ohio), nor may he question the person about a crime without a proper warning (Miranda). In fact the person doesn't even have to talk to him, He has a right to remain silent (Escobedo). Once the person has counsel, the police can't talk to him at all (Massiah). The person has a right to counsel, and if the defendant is indigent one must be provided (Gideon v Wainwright) and you can't have him in a lineup without counsel. (US v Wade). He has a right to a transcript and to counsel on appeal (Griffin v Illinois). Most importantly he cannot be subject to an unlawful search; and evidence found in such a search is not admissible against him at trial (Mapp v Ohio). (This ruling is, I think, the most hurtful to the prosecution of any of the Warren Court rulings because it has led to countless dismissals of obviously guilty persons and a myriad of decisions on the subject plus incentivizing police perjury in trying to avoid the consequences of an obviously unlawful search. For example "He consented to open the car" etc. etc.)

Then there are the decisions on fee speech, liberalizing the laws against pornography (Roth) and, most importantly in my opinion immunizing the press from libel in almost every circumstance where a public person is involved - and almost anyone who is the subject of a news article can be called a "public person" (New York Times v Sullivan). Sullivan held that a free press was immunized form suit for defamation of libel unless the plaintiff proved "actual malice" which could be equated either to knowledge of the falsity of the story or a reckless disregard of investigation. Either way the decision has polluted our media with nuanced or outright untruths.

Warren dominated the Court during his 16 years (1953-69) as Chief Justice, Always fair, always calm, always adroit he forged consensus among brilliant, independent men - men who had been intellectually blooded at the highest levels of academia or government and who rarely brooked any opinion other than their own. Yet he moulded them by personality, reason and calm judgment into a majority which followed his lead. Rarely was he in the minority.

In doing this he revolutionized our society in ways we tend to forget or overlook because society as now changed has generally accepted the changes. We would never go back to the way it was in 1953, nor could we. We could never go back to segregation. We could never abide a defendant's being convicted without representation, without, a fair trial or by misconduct on the part of the police or the prosecutors. (In fact most of us have forgotten how the criminal courts operated before the Warren Court changed all that.) Nor will we be restrained in our speech, on what we can watch, or where we can vote - or even if we can vote, being black.

None of this was done without protest - by the South, by the John Birch Society, by the religious right, by millions of people who considered themselves "conservative". (I was never one of them) But now- by and large - most of us have come around to accept the way things are.

However laudable the changes have been there is a troubling aspect to the way in which they came to be. Huge societal changes were imposed by decree upon the American people without any public participation. By the stoke of a pen agreed upon by nine elderly men one quarter of our nation was enfranchised, given rights they had never had had before and three fourths of the nation was ordered under penalty of imprisonment to accept them as equals. This was judicial legislation, pure and simple - judicial activism - freighted, to be sure, with the best of intentions, but nevertheless passed without a peep of citizen input.

But what about next time? What restraint is there on the reach of a supreme court Decision? Should there be any? Should we always assume that the nine men and women of the Court really have the best interests of the Country at heart and will avoid any action or decree which will imperil or society or our economy or our liberties? Or that they are not acting with self interest as opposed to the larger interest of the country?

I have two answers to this troubling question.
The short answer is that there is no type of restraint, short of a Constitutional Amendment of some sort, which could be imposed without having the "restrainer" - be it Congress or the Executive - subject to the same concern. Examples: Congress' Court Packing scheme of 1934; Andrew Jackson's defiance of the Court in 1835 ("Now they have acted; let them enforce it")

A longer answer is that popular democracy by its very nature must and does rely in the final analysis on the good sense of the people of the United States; and the people of the United States have almost always demonstrated good sense when faced with serious problems of an institutional or Constitutional nature. They are not going to devalue the Supreme Court as one of the three co-equal branches of government. Furthermore, each of the branches of our Government - The Legislative, Executive and Judicial - have tended to right themselves, to purge themselves either voluntarily or by public pressure over time, the one possible exception being Congress. So while one may cringe at the nonsense written by Mr. Justice Douglas, the Court is essential and this book convinces the reader of that fact and of the fact that Warren was a truly great man - one of our greatest.
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