Citizen Justice: The Environmental Legacy of William O. Douglas—Public Advocate and Conservation Champion

Potomac. Sept. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9781640123007. $29.95. BIOG
William O. Douglas sat on the U. S. Supreme Court from 1939 to 1975, which makes him the longest-serving justice. Ninth Circuit Appellate judge McKeown provides a cogent and useful overview of Douglas’s life, career, and controversies, especially his lifelong involvement with environmental causes. Douglas’s public advocacy began in 1954, when he led an eight-day hike to protest the construction of a highway over the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. He later formed long relationships with the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society and wrote many books, articles, and letters aimed at the environmental education of the general public. Douglas’s advocacy raised ethical questions when environmental cases came before the court, but he was unfazed by the criticism, McKeown argues, and wrote the majority opinion in 1967’s Udall v. Federal Power Commission, which rejected a license for a dam on the Snake River. Most of Douglas’s environmental opinions, however, were dissents; McKeown devotes a whole chapter to 1972’s Sierra Club v. Morton, in which Douglas argued for the rights of inanimate and natural objects.
VERDICT Will appeal to anyone interested in environmental issues, the Supreme Court, or Douglas.
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