Boxed-May It Please the Court [With Four 90-Minute Audiocassettes]

Peter H. Irons, Editor
Peter H. Irons, Editor New Press $59.95 (348p) ISBN 978-1-56584-613-5
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Boxed Set - 400 pages - 978-1-56584-337-0
Hardcover - 400 pages - 978-1-56584-046-1
Boxed Set - 400 pages - 978-1-56584-036-2
Paperback - 404 pages - 978-1-56584-052-2
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In 1993, political science professor Irons (UC San Diego) launched May It Please the Court, a series of sets of audiocassettes and transcripts of seminal Supreme Court sessions (the Court started taping its sessions in 1955 but until the first volume of May It Please the Court had restricted access to the tapes). This fourth installment features oral arguments in 16 cases implicating the constitutional rights of students and teachers in middle and high schools. The cases range widely from topics like busing and school prayer to drug testing, newspaper censorship and corporal punishment. Some of these cases set important legal precedents, such as Goss v. Lopez, which determined the due process rights of students facing suspension. Other cases present tricky factual issues that leave the law uncertain, such as New Jersey v. T.L.O., which addressed how far a principal may go in searching a student's purse. But students and general readers will have no trouble following even the knottiest arguments, thanks to Irons's plainspoken narration, crisp editing and occasional forthright asides. Both tapes and text include excerpts from oral arguments made before the Court, questions by the justices and majority and dissenting opinions. Readers and listeners will be enlightened, and entertained as well, as sparks fly between passionate, sometimes tongue-tied lawyers and the testy justices grilling them from the bench. (Two justices stand out--Thurgood Marshall, for his pointed and witty exchanges, and Antonin Scalia, who interrupts both lawyers and fellow justices with caustic rhetoric). Irons occasionally fails to identify which justice is speaking, attributing his or her question merely to the ""Court,"" but this one flaw does not detract significantly from a valuable, even noble project. (Sept.)
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