The Burger Court and the Rise of the Judicial Right

Michael J. Graetz, the Justus S. Hotchkiss Professor of Law Emeritus at Yale and professor of law at Columbia Law School, and Linda Greenhouse, senior research scholar and lecturer at Yale Law School

(Simon & Schuster)

This look at the Warren Burger Supreme Court finds that it was not a “moderate” or transitional court, as often portrayed, but a conservative one that still defines the constitutional landscape we live in today.

When Richard Nixon campaigned for the presidency in 1968 he promised to change the Supreme Court. With four appointments to the court, including Warren E. Burger as the chief justice, he did just that. In 1969, the Burger Court succeeded the famously liberal Warren Court, which had significantly expanded civil liberties and was despised by conservatives across the country.

The Burger Court is often described as a “transitional” court between the liberal Warren Court and the Rehnquist and Roberts Courts, a court where little of importance happened. But as the authors contend, the Burger Court veered well to the right in such areas as criminal law, race, and corporate power. Even while declaring a right to abortion in Roe v. Wade, it drew the line at government funding for poor women. Graetz and Greenhouse excavate the roots of the most significant Burger Court decisions and show how their legacy affects us today.

The Burger Court and the Rise of the Judicial Right” draws on the personal papers of the justices as well as other archives to reveal how the court shaped its major decisions.

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