Dissent and the Supreme Court: Its Role in the Court's History and the Nation's Constitutional Dialogue

Pantheon. Oct. 2015. 544p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780307379405. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781101870631. LAW
OrangeReviewStarUrofsky (law & public policy, emeritus, history, Virginia Commonwealth Univ.; Louis D. Brandeis: A Life) has written an important and impressive analysis of the role of Supreme Court dissents in shaping legal history. Thus, the author emphasizes that dissents function as "constitutional dialogue" or dialectic, contributing to the evolution of the law. Consequently, today's opposition may be tomorrow's majority decision and the rule of law. Urofsky explores the trends in court decisions, from seriatim decisions in which each justice issues an opinion to unified majority opinions and decisions in which justices frequently issue dissents. Along the way, he examines the role of dissents in a number of landmark cases, such as Lochner v. New York, the Dred Scott decision, Olmstead v. United States, and In re Yamashita. Moreover, he provides insight into the rationale employed by great justices such as John Marshall, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., and Louis D. Brandeis.
VERDICT A sine qua non for historians and legal scholars who study works such as Bernard Schwartz's A History of the Supreme Court. [See Prepub Alert, 4/30/15.]

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