John Marshall Harlan: Great Dissenter of the Warren Court

 
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John Marshall Harlan: Great Dissenter of the Warren Court

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When David Souter was nominated by President Bush to the Supreme Court, he cited John Marshall Harlan as his model. It was an interesting choice. Admired by conservatives and deeply respected by his liberal brethren, Harlan was a man, as Justice William Brennan lamented, whose "massive
scholarship" has never been fully recognized. In addition, he was the second Harlan to sit on the Court, following his grandfather--also named John Marshall Harlan. But while his grandfather was an outspoken supporter of reconstruction on a conservative court, the younger Harlan emerged as a critic
of the Warren Court's liberal expansion of civil liberties.
Now, in the first biography of this important but neglected jurist, Tinsley Yarbrough provides a detailed account of Harlan's life, from his privileged childhood to his retirement and death. Yarbrough examines the forces and events which shaped the Justice's jurisprudence--his early life and
often complex family relationships, education at Princeton and Oxford, his work as a prosecutor during Prohibition, Republican Party activities, wartime service in the Army Air Force, and years as one of the nation's preeminent corporate lawyers (a career culminating in his defense of the du Pont
brothers in the massive DuPont-GM antitrust suit). The book focuses, however, on Harlan's years on the high bench. Yarbrough weaves together discussions of the Justice's relations with his brethren, clerks, and staff, an examination of Harlan's role in the decision-making process on the Court, and
an analysis of his jurisprudence. The Justice's approach to constitutional interpretation exalted precedent, deference to governmental power, and narrowdecisions closely tied to case facts; but he also accepted an evolving, creative model of constitutional construction which permitted expansive
readings of constitutional rights. Yarbrough's details Harlan's close relationship with Justice Frankfurter, showing how--despite the

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