In 1982, Stephen Goode authored The Controversial Court: Supreme Court Influences on American Life, which examined the differences in judicial activism and restraint as exhibited by the Warren and Burger Courts, respectively. The Controversial Court fairly discusses most of the major decisions handed down by the Supreme Court between 1953 and 1981.
I will voice a gripe that Goode does not discuss Loving v. Virginia (which I wrote about in my anti-miscegenation statutes series). And what could be more sacred to Americans and the examination of the Civil Rights Era than securing the rights of the people to marry, regardless of race or nationality?!
I found that The Controversial Court over-emphasized the significance and impact of the Chief Justice in providing guidance or direction to the associate justices. Goode also placed too much stock in justices having loyalty to either political parties or the President who nominated them for the bench. The evidence has long been that Supreme Court justices are extraordinarily individualistic and independent.
In spite of my complaints, Stephen Goode’s The Controversial Court is an accessible summation of the landmark decisions of the Warren and Burger courts. It can be an effective entry point into the makeup and work of the Supreme Court from 1953 to 1981. If you’re looking to introduce yourself to these topics, you can find used copies of this book on Amazon.
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