LAW & CRIME

Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court’s Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America

Penguin Pr. Feb. 2020. 448p. ISBN 9780735221505. $30. LAW
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Since the tenure of former Chief Justices Warren Burger and William H. Rehnquist, the U.S. Supreme Court’s increasingly conservative bent and legal decisions have unfairly impacted poor and marginalized Americans while benefiting the rich and powerful, argues best-selling author Cohen (Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck). Moving from decision to decision, Cohen demonstrates how uninterrupted conservative control of the Court has dismantled the liberal legacy of the Warren Court (1953-1969), which heard cases on school desegregation, racial exclusion and discrimination, wage workers and labor unions, women’s rights, voting rights, and more. The result, Cohen maintains, has been a trajectory of increasing inequality; this is pushing the country into an unsustainable society disconnected from the fundamental aspects of the nation’s founding as a land where upward mobility is a promise for the many, rather than a path of the few.
VERDICT Weaving legal, political, and social history, Cohen creates a richly detailed, but accessible account for all interested in the personalities and politics that have shaped and are continuing to shape not only the U.S. criminal justice system but also the fabric of American life. A must-read.

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