The Long Reach of the Sixties

The Long Reach of the Sixties

LBJ, Nixon, and the Making of the Contemporary Supreme Court

Book - 2017
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"Americans often hear that Presidential elections are about "who controls" the Supreme Court. In The Long Reach of the Sixties, eminent legal historian Laura Kalman focuses on the period between 1965 and 1971, when Presidents Johnson and Nixon launched the most ambitious effort to do so since Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack it with additional justices. Those six years-- the apex of the Warren Court, often described as the most liberal in American history, and the dawn of the Burger Court--saw two successful Supreme Court nominations and two failed ones by LBJ, four successful nominations and two failed ones by Nixon, the first resignation of a Supreme Court justice as a result of White House pressure, and the attempted impeachment of another. Using LBJ and Nixon's telephone conversations and a wealth of archival collections, Kalman roots their efforts to mold the Court in their desire to protect their Presidencies, and she sets the contests over it within the broader context of a struggle between the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government. The battles that ensued transformed the meaning of the Warren Court in American memory. Despite the fact that the Court's work generally reflected public opinion, these fights calcified the image of the Warren Court as "activist" and "liberal" in one of the places that image hurts the most--the contemporary Supreme Court appointment process. To this day, the term "activist Warren Court" has totemic power among conservatives. Kalman has a second purpose as well: to explain how the battles of the sixties changed the Court itself as an institution in the long term and to trace the ways in which the 1965-71 period has haunted--indeed scarred--the Supreme Court appointments process"-- Provided by publisher
"The Warren Court of the 1950s and 1960s was the most liberal in American history. Yet within a few short years, new appointments redirected the Court in a more conservative direction, a trend that continued for decades. However, even after Warren retired and the makeup of the court changed, his Court cast a shadow that extends to our own era. In The Long Reach of the Sixties, Laura Kalman focuses on the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Presidents Johnson and Nixon attempted to dominate the Court and alter its course. Using newly released--and consistently entertaining--recordings of Lyndon Johnson's and Richard Nixon's telephone conversations, she roots their efforts to mold the Court in their desire to protect their Presidencies. The fierce ideological battles--between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches--that ensued transformed the meaning of the Warren Court in American memory. Despite the fact that the Court's decisions generally reflected public opinion, the surrounding debate calcified the image of the Warren Court as activist and liberal. Abe Fortas's embarrassing fall and Nixon's campaign against liberal justices helped make the term "activist Warren Court" totemic for liberals and conservatives alike. The fear of a liberal court has changed the appointment process forever, Kalman argues. Drawing from sources in the Ford, Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton presidential libraries, as well as the justices' papers, she shows how the desire to avoid another Warren Court has politicized appointments by an order of magnitude. Among other things, presidents now almost never nominate politicians as Supreme Court justices (another response to Warren, who had been the governor of California). Sophisticated, lively, and attuned to the ironies of history, The Long Reach of the Sixties is essential reading for all students of the modern Court and U.S. political history."-- Provided by publisher
Publisher: New York, NY : Oxford University Press, [2017]
ISBN: 9780199958221
019995822X
Characteristics: xv, 468 pages ; 25 cm

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