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Archibald Cox «The Court & The Constitution» - Kirkus Review

Authors:
  • National Book Critics Circle

Abstract

By the author of «The Warren Court», an evolutionary history of the Supreme Court as ultimate interpreter of the Constitution.
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Kirkus Reviews
THE COURT AND THE
CONSTITUTION
By
Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 1987
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
By the author of The Warren Court, an evolutionary history of the Supreme
Court as ultimate interpreter of the Constitution. The ""Miracle at
Philadelphia"" actually began at Runnymede, England, according to Cox.
The Convention imposing union upon 13 squabbling sovereignties by
means of a federal Constitution was in some ways the logical conclusion of
a case that might well be called The English Barons v. King John and a
petition known as Magna Carta. From this root derives not only the idea of due process, of a sovereign
""law of the land"" (as against divine right) to which even the most exalted, in theory, are subject, but also
ultimately our own Constitution. But the Constitution is not a fixed dispensation--so much Mosaic law
forever graved in stone; it is an organic, flexible framework, grounded in the spirit of Anglo. American
common taw and necessarily adaptable to the changing needs of changing times. Given this background,
Cox illustrates just how the judiciary came to exert, through its power of interpretive review, so singular an
influence on American life. Siding squarely with the great liberal tradition of American jurisprudence
epitomized by Chief Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes, Felix Frankfurter, and Earl Warren, Cox chronicles
the political climates and judicial ramifications of those landmark decisions--school desegregation in
Brown v. The Board of Education (1954), abortion in Roe v. Wade (1973)--that have made their influence
on the national life irrevocably felt. Gentlemanly in its disagreements, judicious in its findings, this is a
learned and lively inquiry into the genius of American constitutionalism by one who has himself played (as
the Watergate Special Prosecutor) a historic role in its continuingly dramatic unfolding.
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