Read Injustices: The Supreme Court's History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted by Ian Millhiser Online


Few American institutions have inflicted greater suffering on ordinary people than the Supreme Court of the United States. Since its inception, the justices of the Supreme Court have shaped a nation where children toiled in coal mines, where Americans could be forced into camps because of their race, and where a woman could be sterilized against her will by state law. TheFew American institutions have inflicted greater suffering on ordinary people than the Supreme Court of the United States. Since its inception, the justices of the Supreme Court have shaped a nation where children toiled in coal mines, where Americans could be forced into camps because of their race, and where a woman could be sterilized against her will by state law. The Court was the midwife of Jim Crow, the right hand of union busters, and the dead hand of the Confederacy. Nor is the modern Court a vast improvement, with its incursions on voting rights and its willingness to place elections for sale.In this powerful indictment of a venerated institution, Ian Millhiser tells the history of the Supreme Court through the eyes of the everyday people who have suffered the most from it. America ratified three constitutional amendments to provide equal rights to freed slaves, but the justices spent thirty years largely dismantling these amendments. Then they spent the next forty years rewriting them into a shield for the wealthy and the powerful. In the Warren era and the few years following it, progressive justices restored the Constitution's promises of equality, free speech, and fair justice for the accused. But, Millhiser contends, that was an historic accident. Indeed, if it weren't for several unpredictable events, Brown v. Board of Education could have gone the other way.In Injustices, Millhiser argues that the Supreme Court has seized power for itself that rightfully belongs to the people's elected representatives, and has bent the arc of American history away from justice....

Title : Injustices: The Supreme Court's History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted
Author :
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ISBN : 9781568584560
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 350 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Injustices: The Supreme Court's History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted Reviews

  • Giuseppe
    2019-06-17 12:11

    Yes, Howard Zinn and Peter Irons would be proud of this book. Granted, it focuses on cases that represent the worst of the Court. What's disappointing, yet unsurprising, is that we are left to conclude that decisions that favor business over people are not remnants of earlier times, but appear to remain a constant in judicial review. I still believe the Court has made progress in a number of areas, but it is disheartening to see that progressive change is highly dependent on what party is in power, and that the unpredictability of time and circumstance (which justices live, which justices die, who is president when a judicial opening arises, and what party controls congress) is the ultimate arbiter of how our judicial system advances (or regresses).

  • Dan
    2019-06-11 04:51

    Since I was a student in grade school and understood what our Constitution was, I always regarded the Supreme Court as the guardian of justice. I always felt that the nine people who sit on the court were able to leave aside their prejudices and allow themselves to be unbiased when it came to judging. Why else would the Constitution make the position of Supreme Court Justice a lifetime appointment with only impeachment as the means to remove the sitting judge so that they would not be influenced by the politics of the time. And yet, from the book it appears that the people who are appointed to the court cannot rid of their biases and find ways to reflect those biases in their decisions often impacting the more vulnerable in negative ways. The current supreme court is made up of a majority of such men. They rule in such ways as to make the rest of us miserable and they put their certificate of approval on policies which are unfair to the defenseless. This would include the Citizen's United which has been disastrous for our Democracy by allowing an ocean of money to affect the elections, the Obamacare decisions that allowed states to blackout of Medicaid, thereby ensuring that poor and middle class people to still not be able to afford healthcare, their Hobby Lobby decision which inserts religion in our secular society. It also highlights how the decisions in the 19th century delayed civil rights and allowed our apartheid system, allowed Corporations to exploit workers, and allowed the US government to intern people of Japanese descent. At this point, I have to say that the Supreme Court is not a benign institution but it is a reactionary institution that continually hands down decision which benefit the rich and powerful. It is very sad for our country to have such people responsible for the fate of millions of citizens.

  • Todd Martin
    2019-05-30 06:20

    The Supreme Court has made some really bad decisions in its time. Take a recent example of the Citizens United case in which corporations were granted the right to spend nearly unlimited sums to sway elections and to keep those donations secret. Justice Kennedy thought this was fine and dandy since “independent expenditures do not lead to, or create the appearance of, quid pro quo corruption.”, a quote that will likely stand the test of time as a quintessential example of breathtaking cluelessness.It turns out that the Court has made many decisions in which they sided with the rich and powerful against the oppressed. Including:- Narrowly interpreting the 14th amendment and failing to protect African Americans subject to oppressive state laws in the aftermath of the Civil War.- Siding with business and failing to protect children in the workforce.- Siding with business over workers who were injured, maimed or killed due to unsafe working conditions.- Siding with business over worker’s rights to unionize and strike.- Giving the state the right to perform involuntary sterilizations.- Prohibiting the free speech of anti-war protesters.- Declaring that it was constitutional to place US citizens of Japanese descent in internment camps solely due to their race.Does this mean that the Court is dedicated to, as Millhiser puts it, “comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted”? I honestly don’t know. One can easily come up with examples of decisions that paint the Court as a defender of liberty:- Gideon v. Wainwright: Guaranteed the right to counsel for those accused of a crime.- New York Times v. Sullivan: Expanded free speech rights of the press.- Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka: Made segregated schools unconstitutional.- Griswold v. Connecticut: Made contraception legal.- Miranda v. Arizona: Ensured the accused were made aware of their rights.- Roe v. Wade: Legalized abortion.- Obergefell v. Hodges: Legalized same-sex marriage.I could go on and on in this vein. Unfortunately Millhiser fails to place the sum of decisions on a scale to arrive at a convincing conclusion. Instead, he chooses specific examples that support his argument that the Court is an agent of repression. While it has proven to be so at times, I am not convinced that it is institutionally repressive.Here’s what I think can be said … the Supreme Court is a human institution, and like every human institution they sometimes get things wrong (sometimes spectacularly so). Also, some individuals on the court have been (and are currently) motivated primarily by ideology. And like televangelists with the bible, or radical imams with the koran, these justices have proven to be adept at performing tremendous feats of mental gymnastics to twist the constitution to mean whatever they want it to mean. This is one reason why presidential elections are important, the effects of their judicial choices can persist for many generations. It also serves as a warning to congress should future amendments to the constitution occur. It would behoove them to choose their words precisely to preclude the court from interpretation.Finally, in a democracy the people should have a right to enact laws and govern as they choose, as long as those laws are not in direct conflict with the constitution. We do this through a representational form of government where the citizens elect the individuals they believe best represent their views. The laws of the land should in no way be ceded to an unelected body of nine individuals. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said: “the Constitution of 1787 did not make our democracy impotent”.This, of course, is where the current court has done the most damage of late. By upholding laws that require voter ID, by striking down key provisions of the Voter Rights Act, by ending the Florida vote recount in 2000, by claiming that corporations have the same right as citizens, exempting corporations from law based on the owners religion, and by allowing nearly unlimited cash from corporations and billionaires to influence elections they are stripping ordinary citizens of the right to liberty and the right to govern themselves. This is unconscionable and serves to illustrate how truly radical the Robert's court has become as well as the importance of appointing justices who place the needs of the country above their own personal ideology.MIllhiser does a decent job summarizing key decisions in the court’s 226 year history. The book starts out rather slowly and plods through the courts decisions in the aftermath of the civil war and finally picks up steam in the 1960’s and the civil rights era. I felt like I learned quite a bit regarding the constitutional basis upon which some of the court’s key decisions were based, but considered the text to be somewhat of a grind at times.

  • Elspeth
    2019-06-04 09:59

    This was a thought-provoking book! The gist of the author’s argument is captured by the title: “Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted.” Following in the footsteps of Howard Zinn’s populist critique of U.S. history, Ian Millhiser argues that the Supreme Court is an elitist institution that generally sides with business interests and the most fortunate sectors of society at the expense of the rights of everyday people, turning a blind (judicial) eye to those who are most in need of Constitutional protection. What about the Warren Court supporting civil rights? Although Millhiser acknowledges that there was a brief period of time when the Supreme Court played an important role in defending civil rights, he labels the Warren Court as merely an anomaly in American history. Millhiser emphasizes that the Supreme Court, as an historical institution, has given us a series of deplorable rulings that violate our contemporary moral compass: Among other things, the Justices upheld slavery and segregation, supported child labor, struck down workplace protections for employees and public health laws, rejected the minimum wage, condoned eugenic laws for forced sterilization, allowed the President to proceed with the Japanese internment during World War II, and continues to make claims of discrimination extremely difficult for either women or minorities to win. Moreover, in recent years this is the, “same Court that gave us Citizens United and Bush v. Gore. And the same Court that nearly stripped health care from millions of Americans” (273-4). We are left to conclude that the Court almost always favors business and corporate interests over the interests of everyday people, and that this trend is gaining momentum under the Roberts Court!The strength of this book is also its weakness. Although I largely agree with Millhiser’s relatively damning analysis of the Court “comforting the [already] comfortable” at the expense of the “afflicted,” it is also important to note that the cases he focuses on ALL support his argument in a rather one-dimensional manner. Millhiser glides over examples of progress made the Supreme Court by labeling such rulings as anomalies in history (i.e. including the New Deal and Civil Rights blip), rather than looking in a more robust fashion at the Court’s role in the broader American political system. Echoing Alexander Bickel’s classic argument in “The Least Dangerous Branch,” he labels the Court as anti-democratic in character and far more injurious to American democracy than any other branch in government. Here Millhiser conflates two different definitions of the term, ‘democracy.’ Does American democracy require support for constitutionalism or rather majority rule? From a political standpoint, these are different things. Perhaps a big part of the problem is that the U.S. Constitution is not entirely democratic, for it calls for an unelected judiciary, in addition to accommodating evils like slavery and favoring corporate interests? Moreover, given that Congress and the President also supported injustices like slavery, segregation, and Japanese internment, I would suggest that the Court is not ideologically exceptional from the other branches. A more precise definition of constitutionalism and democracy would have sharpened his argument, or at least allowed Millhiser to argue that the Court is merely a political institution like the other two branches of U.S. government. The problem with SCOTUS, alluded to in Millhiser’s critique, is that our expectations are far loftier when it comes to the highest Court in the land. We expect impartial justice and fairness out of this institution, yet end up with rulings that are no less “political” than we get from Congress or the President. Nonetheless, despite the fact that I found Millhiser’s discussion of the role of the Court in American democracy hackneyed, overall this is an excellent book. Both engaging and enraging, the author’s argument about the Court supporting elites over the downtrodden is bolstered by a strong and convincing analysis of cases. He also includes a great discussion of recent rulings from the Roberts Court, which does indeed make me concerned about the future vitality of civil rights and social justice in America. Highly recommended!

  • Kay
    2019-05-19 05:59

    So, full disclosure: Ian and I work together, and he's an incredibly nice guy. Luckily his book is a delightful and engaging read that actually looks at the real stories behind some key Supreme Court decisions. Rather than batting about the constitutional implications of decisions in dry legal terms, Ian Millhiser helpfully points out that what is at the heart of these decisions are people: people who stood to gain access to clean water in the wake of the Civil War, children who worked in intolerably terrible coal mining conditions, women who were raped, and workers who tried to organize for better rights. This is what is often lost in debates about the Supreme Court. Justices pretend they are making high-minded constitutional decisions without bothering themselves with the human suffering they inflict. This is, Millhiser argues, part of the problem. Repeatedly justices have leaned in a political manner, generally favoring the wealthy and powerful. Yet we tend to view the Supreme Court as a stoic and balanced institution. Millhiser destroys that reasoning. Though his solutions seem like an uphill battle -- he even, perhaps jokingly, takes a stab at the argument for a modern version FDR's court packing -- disrupting the narrative of the Supreme Court as a fair and just institution is helpful. Particularly as we look to the presidential election in 2016, after which the composition of the court could be changed dramatically.

  • Leslie
    2019-05-21 11:51

    Very disorganized writing, with some odd segues (how did we get from anti-trust to the Kansas-Nebraska Act in just two paragraphs?) but if you take the time to read, then go back to find the thread tying the various disjointed pieces together, you'll be able to stitch the information together. And it's disturbing, to say the least. It is a struggle to get through the writing style; this book could have been so much more compelling had it been organized logically. It seems haphazard, but perhaps that just reflects the workings of the Supreme Court itself.

  • Jeff
    2019-06-04 09:59

    You know all that distrust and contempt you have for the partisan hacks in Congress? You might want to save some of that for the Supreme Court. Seriously, this branch of government that's purportedly comprised of objective jurists offering dispassionate rulings may be our most dangerous institution of all.

  • Nick
    2019-06-07 11:57

    Disorganized and a bit too editorial for my taste.

  • JP
    2019-06-09 10:15

    I loved this book. I thought Millhiser was brilliant in how he laid out his argument, though a little heavy-handed in his open disdain for conservative ideology. I think he's entirely correct in all his analyses, but I worry that his style could turn off conservatives from what is a powerful, meaningful, and RIGHT argument.The first third of Injustices, titled "The Constitution of Stephen Johnson Field", focuses on the problems between (roughly) the end of the Civil War and the New Deal. In this era, deliberate misreadings of the US Constitution led to the Supreme Court being used as an anti-democratic limitation on worker's rights; an anti-democratic limitation on people's decision to provide for their own health and safety when those qualities are directly threatened by the wealthy; a racist support system that condoned mass murder and terrorism aimed at Black Americans; limiting (and not protecting) Americans' First Amendment privileges and more.In Part 2, "Getting Out of the Way", Millhiser describes a Supreme Court that largely steps aside and allows elected government to do its job, starting with FDR and going from there. Interestingly, though FDR's threat to expand the Supreme Court and stack it with liberal justices is heavily criticized by teachers and students of history everywhere, it apparently would not only not be illegal, but not even that weird. The total number of justices on the bench was adjusted periodically throughout the 19th century, and the Constitution is silent on the actual number that are supposed to sit at any given time. Go figure.So in Part 2 we like the Supreme Court because, apparently, they stop screwing everything up haha. Part 3, "The Brief Rise and Rapid Fall of Conservative Judicial Restraint" is a mini roller-coaster that starts by showing how the Supreme Court stood up for everyday Americans throughout the Warren Court's time in office, and then how today we've got a court that is devoted to big business in their effort to defraud and disenfranchise the general public.The Warren Court rightly limited police and protected American citizens from overreach by ensuring that police must inform suspects of their Miranda Rights in Miranda v. Arizona. This could even go farther, but for now I'll just take the W. Then in Mapp v. Ohio, material found in unlawful searches and seizures was ruled inadmissible - a massive win for lovers of liberty! The Burgher Court had its own victories as well! They declared gender discrimination unconstitutional! Then they stood up for a woman's control of her own body by allowing abortion - a decision that has been continually derided by conservatives for decades. Though there are many criticisms of the precedent they used in Roe v. Wade, the law has been affirmed and stood the test of time so far, and probably won't change in the near future. This last one is up for criticism, though Millhiser only alludes to it, since it is a fairly open imposition of the Court's politics into their decision.Then we start to see it fall apart. Unfair elections are the name of the game if you're a Republican who wants to be elected, and Part 3 highlights issues with gerrymandering, voter ID laws, the evisceration of the Voting Rights Act, Citizens United and the end of limits on corruption, and the Bush v. Gore decisions, all of which are overwhelmingly favorable to Republicans, some of which are obviously unconstitutional (Voter ID laws and the repeal of sections of the VRA), and all of which are highly questionable. Conservatives don't want "We The People" to vote; this is obvious by their decisions and their statements. Want Democracy to win the day? Vote Democrat, according to any rational analysis.The last two chapters of the book have to do with tricky hidden riders that allow businesses to subvert the court system and use their own objectively biased tribunals to screw-over consumers. Guess which group the vast majority of Americans fall into (hint: it isn't businesses)... and then healthcare and the ACA. You don't have to like the law, but any idea that it's unconstitutional is absurd. By tracing arguments supporting its constitutionality, Millhiser shows that there are serious questions of the current Court's impartiality and ability to conduct themselves. Notably, this includes Justice Thomas, whose legal opinions harken back to the worst abuses of the Supreme Court's power, Justice Roberts, who is unquestionably and dangerously pro-business, and others.More conservative strong-arming stopping the steady progression of liberal ideology. These liberal ideas - that people deserve democracy, that they deserve clean food and water, that they need collective action to protect themselves from rapacious employers, that no one should be stripped of their right to reproduce because they belong to a disenfranchised group, and that racism is an abhorrent mar on the face of civilized society that we should all be ashamed of - would not only all be vindicated in time, but which are responsible for every vestige of success and progress in our modern world. While a Supreme Court stacked with liberal justices may protect and advance these valorous ideas, Millhiser highlights that history is only just now showing the Supreme Court as a body worth its respected reputation.I strongly recommend, but must point out that Millhiser does have some one-sided views that pour through in this 300 page diatribe against conservatism's judicial impositions on the nation.

  • Bob H
    2019-06-07 04:52

    This book spells out, in maddening detail, the darker side of the Supreme Court. It focuses especially on three periods: post-Civil War, in which the Court essentially nullified the war and its constitutional results; the Lochner period, in which the Court handed the country over to Gilded Age big business; and the current period of Hobby Lobby and Citizens United. It's well worth reading the Lochner period, because the current court, some commenters tell us, is another Lochner period, although it has yet to invalidate child-labor or work-conditions law as it did a century ago. Yet. Still, we come to understand just how much harm their decisions can inflict on average Americans.He also says, convincingly, that Brown v. Board of Education, and the Warren Court generally, were to some extent the result of freak events, and long gone. All this is in clear prose, understandable to non-legal readers. There's not much on the national-security cases of late, but still plenty here to understand how much harm this Court has done, and can do, in people's lives.Highest recommendation.

  • Kenneth Barber
    2019-05-17 12:06

    This book details the decisions of the Supreme Court that have adversely effected working people, minorities, children and women. The author shows that the court has ruled against these groups more often than not. The court has defended the wealthy and business interests to the detriment of both the Constitution and the welfare of the people. The author details how the present court is one of the worst for ruling their conservative agenda with no legal basis. He also relates how the situation could get worse. Four of the judges are reaching the age where they could retire at any time. If a conservative president is allowed to appoint that many judges the court could reverse many of the liberties we enjoy today. This book is excellent food for thought.

  • victor harris
    2019-06-15 10:56

    A sweep of the Supreme Court history showing how many of the cases were ideologically rather than legally driven. Except for a brief window during parts of the New Deal, and Warren and Burger courts, the tendency, as the title indicates, is for the court to side with the wealthy at the expense of workers and the vulnerable. The modern court with its heavy right-wing tilt is an example of continuing in that tradition. To illustrate the author's case, special attention is given to landmark cases such as Dred Scott, Plessy, and Lochner; though it addresses a host of others. For those familiar with the court's background much of this will be familiar territory, for others seeking a good survey with solid analysis, it is highly recommended.

  • Byron
    2019-05-23 04:11

    I stumbled on this book because I have been reading some books on the Supreme Court, and I found it enlightening. The author makes no mystery of his own opinions and perspectives, and as long as you read it understanding that he is making his points, that is okay. The points he make are real and troubling enough. What I appreciated most from this book is the recognition that supreme court justices are often making decisions based on something other than the constitution, and unfortunately, when you have a justice who is insensitive to issues of little people economics or race or gender, we are stuck with their decisions.

  • Naomi
    2019-06-04 06:57

    This was not what I was hoping for. It's mostly just a series of anecdotes of some of the key cases where scotus has ruled in favor of the big and wealthy and against the disadvantaged. I wanted something more methodological, more academic, with more proof for the argument. This is written much more for an average lay reader.

  • Sue
    2019-05-28 05:18

    Rambles on and on, in a very disjointed fashion. Reads like one big novel, expounding one big opinion on well-known cases.

  • David02139
    2019-05-22 06:16

    Very good argument for how the Supreme Court has not lived up to what we have expected. A lot of the decisions that were made, the author argues, were very close and could have been decided the other way. Details the older court decisions and how they are not consistent with previous decisions or the Constitution. Need to understand some of the earlier court decisions myself.

  • Zack
    2019-05-31 05:52

    great history into a lot of the corrupt nature of a part the system

  • Chris Farrell
    2019-06-14 08:17

    I think most people my age or thereabouts grew up in the shadow of the Warren court, which did a great deal of good on many issues. As Injustices chronicles so well, this may give us an irrationally rosy view of an institution which has for the rest of its history been reactionary and often lawless.From Dredd Scott to Plessy v. Ferguson to Lochner to Buck v. Bell to Korematsu v. U.S, there is a deep well of truly appalling Supreme Court jurisprudence, decisions that fly in the face of any rational interpretation of the constitution. Decisions that do nothing other than protect entrenched interests at the expense of the constitutional rights of minorities or the disempowered.Progressives and liberals should not be shocked that the court is going that way again. Citizens United, Heller, Hobby Lobby, Crawford v. Marion County, and Shelby County are all recent decisions that lack basic constitutional grounding and represent conservative justices failing to protect minority rights guaranteed by the constitution, to the benefit of their conservative patrons. Injustices also makes a strong case that the weird (and politically corrosive) American tradition of partisan gerrymandering (practiced by both Democrats and Republicans, but perfected in the last 20 years in an extreme and highly pernicious form primarily by conservatives) is almost certainly unconstitutional, and yet the court has never protected disenfranchised urban voters.I always knew the Supreme Court was an institution with a checkered past, but Injustices hits you full bore with just how terrible it has been for virtually the entire history of this nation, and how often it has actually been an obstacle to upholding constitutional rights of all Americans rather than the guardian of those rights. There is a legitimate question as to whether or not we would be better off without it (the theory of judicial review, where the Supreme Court is is the final arbiter of the constitutionality of laws passed by the legislature, is not actually spelled out in the constitution and is a later interpretation). The U.K. has done fine without one, and in fact it can be argued that is has an overall better record of protecting basic civil rights, at least in the past 150 years. For anyone who has a passing interest in the history of the Supreme Court (and that should be basically everyone), I highly recommend this book. The courts are the third co-equal branch of government in this country, and how they work and the law they are supposed to uphold and protect are not widely and clearly understood. It is vital to do so.

  • David
    2019-06-08 12:08

    Millhiser's book is a much-needed counterpoint to the rose-colored image of the Supreme Court as a valiant protector of rights against oppressive majoritarianism. As he demonstrates, throughout the Court's history it has invented constitutional principles that allow it to side with corporations and other monied interests against the interests of the weak and vulnerable. This reactionary judicial activism is a real problem, one that seems particularly acute in the US compared with other modern liberal democracies, and deserves careful examination.However, I wish Millhiser had more closely analyzed why he thinks the Supreme Court has acted this way. It can't just be that Supreme Court Justices are terrible people as compared with public servants in the legislative and executive branch. And throughout American history the other branches of government have also, far too often, made the weak weaker and the strong more powerful. So where is the evidence that the Supreme Court is particularly egregious in this respect? As others have argued, such as Barry Friedman in "The Will of the People", the Supreme Court doesn't tend to stray too far from public opinion, and there is a burgeoning industry of political scientists and legal analysts writing about the complex factors that go into Supreme Court decision-making, which suggest that it's a little more complicated than a group of nine corporate shills overriding the public time and time again.What if the reason the Supreme Court behaves this way is because American political institutions -- whether Congress, state legislatures, the executive branch, or courts -- are fundamentally conservative and reactionary, rather than because the Court is especially dangerous?Millhiser could be right in his thesis, and he has written a lucid and important account of the Supreme Court's darker moments. I hope he writes a "volume 2" where he digs deeper into some of the issues that he only scratched the surface of here.

  • Mark Valentine
    2019-06-04 04:04

    Essential reading for civic-minded readers--for active citizens, for citizens who not only vote, but vote WELL. Here's why: In the Epilogue, Millhiser writes that Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg, and Breyer "are in their late seventies or early eighties. The next President of the United States is likely to replace some of them, or perhaps all four" (280). The current 5-4 Conservative bias will be replaced soon. But how?Millhiser uses clear ,engaging prose in tracing multiple Supreme Court decisions in the last 150 years that have crippled citizens while empowering corporations and their shareholders or have reduced rights while empowering, even sanctioning prejudice. The Supreme Court is not impartial. Millhiser traces how the Jim Crow laws owe their heritage to blind approval from the Court, how the Court supported businesses using unfair labor practices with children and with abusive conditions, how Brown v. The Board of Education arrived by slim, slim margin, how gerrymandering contorts the democratic process, how Gore v. Bush, Citizens United, Hobby Lobby reveal the current imprint of bias.The Constitution and its implementation has always been up for interpretation so getting it right, while essential, has never been assured. Getting it right for whom? now that is the question that Millhiser's book addresses and what will be the field of battle soon.Again, essential reading....

  • Mary-Ann
    2019-06-04 06:19

    Skimmed it because it wasn't engaging enough to be read in its entirety.

  • Vegantrav
    2019-05-30 09:04

    This is a great chronicle of some of the terrible decisions of the Supreme Court throughout history--decisions terrible both in terms of their legal reasoning and in their effects on the American people.Injustices presents parts of American history that, for the most part, are completely passed over in most high school and lower level college history courses. Along with the history are fascinating biographical details about many of the justices and several presidents. Having read this book, I now have a much better appreciation for what a great president FDR was, and one president about whom I previously had no real opinion, Grover Cleveland, I now rather despise.I learned a great deal from Injustices, and it also made me both sad and angry that our nation's highest judicial body--supposedly the final protector and guardian of justice--has such a long, sordid record of injustice.

  • Lawrence A
    2019-06-07 03:51

    The US Supreme Court has always been criticized as "anti-democratic," since it can thwart the will of the majority. This power cuts in several directions, but, as the author accurately points out, it usually cuts in the direction of finding, recognizing, or creating "rights" held only by the creditor and rentier classes, and stubbornly protecting those "rights" against the economic interests of the political majority. And, despite the broad powers granted to Congress to enforce the 14th Amendment---an amendment ratified specifically to protect recently freed slaves and their progeny---it took more than 100 years before the Court actually enforced it in favor of African-Americans, as opposed to employers, manufacturers, and landowners. Apart from a brief period in our history, roughly from 1938 to 1976, it has ever been thus.

  • Brian Morris
    2019-05-21 06:03

    It's not a balanced book by any means as it focus almost exclusively on the Supreme Court's failings. But it is important to be aware of the Court's long history of generally favoring the powerful. And in that respect, the author makes a good case that this is the norm except for an unusual period in the middle of the last century. The book also makes it clear how subjective and arbitrary the interpretation of the Constitution really is. In the end, the Constitution means whatever at least five people in black robes say it means. And thus a slight change in the composition of the Court can have drastic effects and change the direction of the law by 180 degrees from where it was headed just a few years prior.

  • Donya
    2019-05-17 04:58

    I was able to read an ARC of this book - and it was an incisive history of the changing role of the Supreme Court in our democracy and how it affects the lives of all Americans. SCOTUS has become more and more central to our rights as citizens (or as corporations, for our current court), and Millhiser is an expert in that transition and what it means to us. It's very readable, and accessible even for non-experts, but there's even more in there for people who follow politics and the courts to challenge their thinking. A must read this year, when the Court is going to be in the news all the time.

  • Dave McNeely
    2019-05-20 04:51

    This brief and pointedly-focused overview of the Supreme Court from Reconstruction to today provides an interesting take on the ways in which SCOTUS has privileged vested power interests in the US over common citizens. However, Millhiser too often ignores moments of progressivism throughout SCOTUS' history and, at times, contradicts his own understanding of the function of the Supreme Court by alternately criticizing and applauding the highest court's natural conservatism. A mirror image history of SCOTUS would lead readers to very different conclusions, although that does not discount some of the important questions Millhiser asks.

  • Bryan
    2019-06-12 04:15

    A riveting read, which rams home just how much America has changed, and simultaneously how little America has changed, over the last 150 years. The author deftly mixes in legal precedent and procedure with colourful stories of the judges, politicians and presidents who have shaped the USA's landscape of human rights and civiil rights. You won't have a true understanding of segregration, discrimination and "state's rights" until you read this book.

  • Jeff Steward
    2019-06-03 07:12

    Another must read for those that want to understand how our system really works, including the politics of unintended consequences. If you are a student of history, a political junkie, or just interested in the Supreme Court , this the book for you. Enjoy

  • Jim Blessing
    2019-06-03 06:07

    This was an excellent book that documented how the Supreme Court throughout its history made rulings that constantly favorable the rich against the middle and lower classes. From slavery, child labor, voting restrictions et al - the list goes on and on.

  • John Holst
    2019-05-17 09:18

    Great, quick read. Provided insight into the Supreme Court and how their decisions impact everyone.....