Inherently Unequal: The Betrayal of Equal Rights by the Supreme Court 1865–1903

Lawrence Goldstone, Walker, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1792-4
In this comprehensive and remarkably lucid study of post–Civil War Supreme Court decisions, Goldstone (The Activist) shows how the court's narrow interpretation of the 14th amendment—bestowing "equal protection under the law" to all Americans, regardless of race—paved the way for future decisions that diminished the status of African-Americans. While the Civil Rights Act of 1875 guaranteed " the full and equal enjoyment of public conveyances, inns, places of public amusement," it was never truly enforced and was ultimately struck down in 1883 as being unconstitutional by an 8–1 vote. Justice Marshall Harlan, a former slave owner, was the lone dissenter and though vindicated by history, at the time his dissent could not have been more unpopular—even in the North. Goldstone provides rich analysis as well as useful descriptions of the backgrounds, philosophies, and even racism of the key justices. Tracing the makeup of the courts under each administration, Goldstone analyzes how politics and social Darwinism further impeded African-American equality, concluding, "the Court did not render its decisions to conform to the law but rather contorted the law to conform to its decisions." (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/25/2010
Release date: 01/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 242 pages - 978-0-8027-7885-7
Open Ebook - 978-0-8027-7886-4
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