Essay, Research Paper
The Warren Court and the Pursuit for Justice
The Warren Court and the Pursuit for Justice written by Morton J. Horwitz is a description of the many Supreme Court cases that Chief Justice Earl Warren, along with other Justices presided on during this critical time period in American History.
The author begins the book by explaining who the different Justices that served on the Court were and when they were appointed to it. Horwitz explained the different backgrounds that the Justices came from and whether they were conservative or more liberal on the court.
The author?s thesis was to prove that the Warren Court helped to give people their own personal rights, through many different court cases. The Warren court ruled on cases from Brown v. Board of Education, which dealt with the segregation issue, to Roth v. United States, which dealt with pornography.
Through trying to support his thesis, the author broke the book down into five separate chapters that dealt with the Warren Court. The first chapter that Horwitz dealt with court cases was in chapter two. In this chapter the author supported his thesis by explaining how the Court ruled on court cases that dealt with Civil Rights. One of the biggest court cases that the Warren Court presided over was Brown v. Board of Education 1953; this court case overturned the separate but equal doctrine. Which stated that the races could be legally segregated. In this case the Justices overturned the Plessy decision and ruled that the segregation of public facilities was illegal. This supported the author?s thesis because it gave all people no matter what race equal facilities. Of course it would be many years before this was enforced throughout the country.
Most of the cases decided on by the Warren Court in this section of the book dealt with the Civil Rights movement. Which gave all races equal rights under the law. The court also ruled on many other cases that helped give blacks their personal rights. Another case that helped blacks pertain equal rights was in the case of Brown v. Louisiana 1966, which dealt with the arrest of young black men protesting a segregated library. The Court ruled that the protestors were allowed to peacefully protest the library without being punished. In all the cases in this section of the book, the Horwitz argued that the Warren Court helped bring equal treatment in the law to all races. Case after case the Court ruled in favor of the personal rights of the individual. If the Court felt that the person?s rights were being infringed then the cases were overturned.
Another way in which Horwitz supported his thesis was by describing how the court ruled on cases during the McCarthy area. During this area people were being arrested and jailed for supposedly being part of the Communist Party. In one such case the Warren Court ruled on Yates v. United States 1956. In this case the court overturned the convictions of Communist leaders under the Smith Act. Under the Smith Act any person could be arrested and jailed for advocating the violent over throw of the United States government. The Court ruled that the Smith Act violated the defendants First Amendment rights.
In another case decided during this time was Watkins v. United States 1956. In this case Chief Justice Warren for the first time began to set limits on the investigational powers of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). HUAC?s main agenda was to find and punish Communist sympathizers. The Court ruled that the committee could not punish people for their right to plead the Fifth Amendment. HUAC was discrediting people for pleading the Fifth Amendment when they testified in front of the Committee.
By limiting the power of HUAC and reaffirming the rights people have for the First and Fifth Amendments, the Court gave people there rights back after their rights had been taken away during the McCarthy area. Horwitz supported his thesis by describing how the Court ruled in favor of giving people their rights after they had been denied them before.
In the final sections of the book, the author described how the Court supported Democracy. The court ruled on many important cases dealing with Democracy and personal rights. In Miranda v. Arizona 1966, the Court over turned the conviction of Miranda because he was not made a where of his right to an attorney. This case made police officers read people their rights before they were arrested. The personal rights of the person won again.
All though the Court did rule in favor of many personal rights it did rule against many cases dealing with pornography. In Roth v. United States 1957, the Court ruled that obscenity was not covered under the First Amendment. Horwitz explained that he did not think the Warren Court was ready for the sexual revolution of the sixties and seventies. Had the Court been ready for the revolution, they might have ruled differently on many other cases during this time.
Horwitz gave a full description of many of the major cases during the Warren Court area. Although the area was named after Chief Justice Earl Warren, all the Justices played a major part in every major case at this time. Had the Court not had a Liberal majority for most of their existence, many cases could have been decided in a different way.
The most important case decided on by the Warren Court was the Brown v. Board of Education decision. This ruling ended the mistake of the Taney Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson. After the Warren Court was finished, there was no more legal segregation. Of course it would be many years before many things began to be desegregated.
This book was good for this particular class because it gave many full descriptions of important cases in American History. This book was also good because it showed how Warren, along with the other Justices, succeeded in giving people their personal rights.