Studying the History of the Supreme Court

My latest “can’t put down” book is The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin (2007). I have always been interested in court cases (blame Perry Mason!) as well as politics so I thought this might make a good book discussion book. (It would.) My interest then led me to the Modern Scholars audio series, Law of the Land: A History of the Supreme Court. It would be wonderful to take a thorough course in this topic, but until I have time, there are many, many resources to peruse. The outline format and many of the suggestions come from the course guide for Law of the Land.

Introduction to the Supreme Court

  1. McCloskey, Robert G. American Supreme Court
  2. Schwartz, Bernard. A History of the Supreme Court
  3. Starr, Kenneth W. First Among Equals (yes, that Ken Starr)
  4. Hall, Kermit. Oxford Guide to the United States Supreme Court

Judicial Review & Marbury v. Madison 1803

  1. Clinton, Robert L. Marbury v. Madison and Judicial Review (not in system; available in Virtual Catalog)
  2. Nelson, William Edward. Marbury v. Madison: The Origins and Legacy of Judicial Review (not in system; available in Virtual Catalog)
  3. Biographies of John Marshall, Chief Justice

Privilege and Creative Destruction and Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge 1837

  1. Kutler, Stanley I. Privilege and Creative Destruction
  2. Monroe, Elizabeth B. The Wheeling Bridge Case (not in the system)
  3. Biographies: Joseph Story; Daniel Webster; Roger Brooke Taney

Equality, Slavery and the Supreme Court: Dred Scott v. Sandford 1857

  1. Fehrenbacher, Don Edward. The Dred Scott Case
  2. Kutler, Stanley I. The Dred Scott Decision: Law or Politics?
  3. The Chief Justice was Roger Brooke Taney (see above.)

Native American Sovereignty and the Constitution: Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock 1903

  1. Wunder, John R. Retained by the People: A History of American Indians and the Bill of Rights (available Virtual Catalog only)
  2. Biographies: Melville W. Fuller; Edward D. White; John Marshall Harlan; Lone Wolf

Liberty to Contract in the Industrial Age: Lochner v. New York 1905

  1. Kens, Paul. Lochner v. New York (available in Virtual Catalog only)
  2. Gilman, Howard. The Constitution Beseiged. (not available)
  3. Biographies: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr; Rufus Peckham

Clear and Present Danger, the First Amendment and Total War: Abrams v. United States 1919

  1. Polenberg, Richard. Fighting Faiths: The Abrams Case, the Supreme Court and Free Speech (available in Virtual Catalog)
  2. Biographies: Louis Brandeis

A Switch in Time? West Coast Hotel v. Parrish 1937

  1. Leuchtenburg, William E. The Supreme Court Reborn: The Constitutional Revolution in the Age of Roosevelt. (available in Virtual Catalog)
  2. Biographies: Franklin D. Roosevelt; Charles Evans Hughes; Harlan Fiske Stone; Owen J. Roberts

Japanese Internment and Total War: Korematsu v. United States 1944

  1. Irons, Peter. Justice at War
  2. Biographies: Hugo Black; Robert H. Jackson; Felix Frankfurter; William O. Douglas; Frank Murphy

Simple Justice: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka 1954, 1955

  1. Kluger, Richard. Simple Justice
  2. Biographies and Warren Court info: Thurgood Marshall; Earl Warren; John W. Davis

Abortion, Women and Equality: Roe v. Wade 1973

  1. Garrow, David J. Liberty and Sexuality
  2. Biographies and Burger Court info: Sarah Weddington; Warren Burger; William Brennan; Harry Blackmun; Potter Stewart; Byron White; Lewis Powell; William Rehnquist; Norma McCorvey

Presidential Immunity and Watergate: United States v. Nixon 1974

  1. Kutler, Stanley. The Wars of Watergate
  2. Biographies: Richard Nixon; Leon Jaworski; John Sirica

Boundaries of Discrimination: Regents of the University of California v. Bakke 1978

  1. Ball, Howard. The Bakke Case (available in Virtual Catalog)
  2. Biographies: John Paul Stevens; Archibald Cox

Other Important Figures in Law

  1. Benjamin Cardozo
  2. Learned Hand

Other Key Cases — Wikipedia articles

  1. MuCulloch v. Maryland 1819 – necessary and proper clause
  2. Dartmouth College v. Woodward 1819 – contracts
  3. Gibbons v. Ogden 1824 – interstate commerce
  4. Slaughterhouse cases 1873 – labor rights
  5. Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan and Trust Co. 1895 – income tax
  6. Plessy vs Ferguson 1896 – separate but equal
  7. Hammer v. Dagenhart 1918 – child labor
  8. Schenck vs US 1919 – free speech
  9. Atkins v. Children’s Hospital 1923 – labor law
  10. Powell v. Alabama 1932 – right to council
  11. Schechter Poultry Co. v. United States 1935 – NIRA and the Big Deal
  12. Mapp v. Ohio 1961 – illegal search and seisure
  13. Engel v. Vitale 1962 – school prayer
  14. New York Times Co. v. Sullivan 1963 – libel suits and newspapers
  15. Griswold v. Connecticut 1965 – right to privacy
  16. Miranda v. Arizona 1966 – rights of the accused
  17. Furman v. Georgia 1972 – death penalty
  18. Texas v. Johnson 1989 – flag burning
  19. Bush v. Gore 2000 – state election law
  20. District of Columbia v. Heller 2008 – handgun ban

Library Field Trip to Harvard

On July 20, some of the members of the Book Discussion group joined the Council on Aging to visit Harvard and the Natural History Museum. In April we had read William Martin’s Harvard Yard — a story about a fictional family with tie to Harvard and a lost Shakespeare folio. The book really made us interested in Harvard, the oldest university in the US.

While we couldn’t go on a tour — no tours on Sundays — we did walk around the campus including Radcliffe where Judy went to college.

The Peabody Museum’s Native American exhibits were fascinating, although the Mayan/Aztec floor was too warm for comfort.

We look forward to other book related field trips in the future.