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Injustices: The Supreme Court's History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted
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Injustices: The Supreme Court's History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  135 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Few American institutions have inflicted greater suffering on ordinary people than the Supreme Court of the United States. Since its inception, the justices of the Supreme Court have shaped a nation where children toiled in coal mines, where Americans could be forced into camps because of their race, and where a woman could be sterilized against her will by state law. The ...more
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published March 24th 2015 by Nation Books
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Giuseppe
Mar 22, 2015 Giuseppe rated it it was amazing
Yes, Howard Zinn and Peter Irons would be proud of this book. Granted, it focuses on cases that represent the worst of the Court. What's disappointing, yet unsurprising, is that we are left to conclude that decisions that favor business over people are not remnants of earlier times, but appear to remain a constant in judicial review. I still believe the Court has made progress in a number of areas, but it is disheartening to see that progressive change is highly dependent on what party is in ...more
Dan
Sep 06, 2015 Dan rated it it was amazing
Since I was a student in grade school and understood what our Constitution was, I always regarded the Supreme Court as the guardian of justice. I always felt that the nine people who sit on the court were able to leave aside their prejudices and allow themselves to be unbiased when it came to judging. Why else would the Constitution make the position of Supreme Court Justice a lifetime appointment with only impeachment as the means to remove the sitting judge so that they would not be influenced ...more
Todd Martin
Dec 23, 2015 Todd Martin rated it liked it
The Supreme Court has made some really bad decisions in its time. Take a recent example of the Citizens United case in which corporations were granted the right to spend nearly unlimited sums to sway elections and to keep those donations secret. Justice Kennedy thought this was fine and dandy since “independent expenditures do not lead to, or create the appearance of, quid pro quo corruption.”, a quote that will likely stand the test of time as a quintessential example of breathtaking ...more
Elspeth
Apr 05, 2015 Elspeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
This was a thought-provoking book! The gist of the author’s argument is captured by the title: “Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted.” Following in the footsteps of Howard Zinn’s populist critique of U.S. history, Ian Millhiser argues that the Supreme Court is an elitist institution that generally sides with business interests and the most fortunate sectors of society at the expense of the rights of everyday people, turning a blind ...more
Kay
Apr 21, 2015 Kay rated it it was amazing
So, full disclosure: Ian and I work together, and he's an incredibly nice guy.

Luckily his book is a delightful and engaging read that actually looks at the real stories behind some key Supreme Court decisions. Rather than batting about the constitutional implications of decisions in dry legal terms, Ian Millhiser helpfully points out that what is at the heart of these decisions are people: people who stood to gain access to clean water in the wake of the Civil War, children who worked in intole
...more
Leslie
Dec 28, 2015 Leslie rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Very disorganized writing, with some odd segues (how did we get from anti-trust to the Kansas-Nebraska Act in just two paragraphs?) but if you take the time to read, then go back to find the thread tying the various disjointed pieces together, you'll be able to stitch the information together. And it's disturbing, to say the least.

It is a struggle to get through the writing style; this book could have been so much more compelling had it been organized logically. It seems haphazard, but perhaps
...more
Jeff
Apr 26, 2015 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: misc-nonfiction
You know all that distrust and contempt you have for the partisan hacks in Congress? You might want to save some of that for the Supreme Court. Seriously, this branch of government that's purportedly comprised of objective jurists offering dispassionate rulings may be our most dangerous institution of all.
Nick
Jun 18, 2015 Nick rated it it was ok
Disorganized and a bit too editorial for my taste.
Bob H
Apr 09, 2015 Bob H rated it it was amazing
This book spells out, in maddening detail, the darker side of the Supreme Court. It focuses especially on three periods: post-Civil War, in which the Court essentially nullified the war and its constitutional results; the Lochner period, in which the Court handed the country over to Gilded Age big business; and the current period of Hobby Lobby and Citizens United. It's well worth reading the Lochner period, because the current court, some commenters tell us, is another Lochner period, although ...more
Kenneth Barber
Apr 09, 2015 Kenneth Barber rated it it was amazing
This book details the decisions of the Supreme Court that have adversely effected working people, minorities, children and women. The author shows that the court has ruled against these groups more often than not. The court has defended the wealthy and business interests to the detriment of both the Constitution and the welfare of the people.
The author details how the present court is one of the worst for ruling their conservative agenda with no legal basis. He also relates how the situation co
...more
victor harris
May 18, 2015 victor harris rated it really liked it
A sweep of the Supreme Court history showing how many of the cases were ideologically rather than legally driven. Except for a brief window during parts of the New Deal, and Warren and Burger courts, the tendency, as the title indicates, is for the court to side with the wealthy at the expense of workers and the vulnerable. The modern court with its heavy right-wing tilt is an example of continuing in that tradition. To illustrate the author's case, special attention is given to landmark cases ...more
Byron
I stumbled on this book because I have been reading some books on the Supreme Court, and I found it enlightening. The author makes no mystery of his own opinions and perspectives, and as long as you read it understanding that he is making his points, that is okay. The points he make are real and troubling enough.

What I appreciated most from this book is the recognition that supreme court justices are often making decisions based on something other than the constitution, and unfortunately, when
...more
Jean-Philippe
Apr 29, 2016 Jean-Philippe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, my-library
I loved this book. I thought Millhiser was brilliant in how he laid out his argument, though a little heavy-handed in his open disdain for conservative ideology. I think he's entirely correct in all his analyses, but I worry that his style could turn off conservatives from what is a powerful, meaningful, and RIGHT argument.

The first third of Injustices, titled "The Constitution of Stephen Johnson Field", focuses on the problems between (roughly) the end of the Civil War and the New Deal. In this
...more
Chris Farrell
Nov 10, 2015 Chris Farrell rated it it was amazing
I think most people my age or thereabouts grew up in the shadow of the Warren court, which did a great deal of good on many issues. As Injustices chronicles so well, this may give us an irrationally rosy view of an institution which has for the rest of its history been reactionary and often lawless.

From Dredd Scott to Plessy v. Ferguson to Lochner to Buck v. Bell to Korematsu v. U.S, there is a deep well of truly appalling Supreme Court jurisprudence, decisions that fly in the face of any ration
...more
David
May 16, 2015 David rated it really liked it
Millhiser's book is a much-needed counterpoint to the rose-colored image of the Supreme Court as a valiant protector of rights against oppressive majoritarianism. As he demonstrates, throughout the Court's history it has invented constitutional principles that allow it to side with corporations and other monied interests against the interests of the weak and vulnerable. This reactionary judicial activism is a real problem, one that seems particularly acute in the US compared with other modern ...more
Mark Valentine
Jan 30, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it it was amazing
Essential reading for civic-minded readers--for active citizens, for citizens who not only vote, but vote WELL. Here's why: In the Epilogue, Millhiser writes that Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg, and Breyer "are in their late seventies or early eighties. The next President of the United States is likely to replace some of them, or perhaps all four" (280). The current 5-4 Conservative bias will be replaced soon. But how?

Millhiser uses clear ,engaging prose in tracing multiple Supreme Court dec
...more
Vegantrav
Apr 17, 2015 Vegantrav rated it it was amazing
This is a great chronicle of some of the terrible decisions of the Supreme Court throughout history--decisions terrible both in terms of their legal reasoning and in their effects on the American people.

Injustices presents parts of American history that, for the most part, are completely passed over in most high school and lower level college history courses. Along with the history are fascinating biographical details about many of the justices and several presidents. Having read this book, I no
...more
Lawrence A
Jul 21, 2015 Lawrence A rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The US Supreme Court has always been criticized as "anti-democratic," since it can thwart the will of the majority. This power cuts in several directions, but, as the author accurately points out, it usually cuts in the direction of finding, recognizing, or creating "rights" held only by the creditor and rentier classes, and stubbornly protecting those "rights" against the economic interests of the political majority. And, despite the broad powers granted to Congress to enforce the 14th ...more
Brian Morris
Dec 24, 2015 Brian Morris rated it liked it
It's not a balanced book by any means as it focus almost exclusively on the Supreme Court's failings. But it is important to be aware of the Court's long history of generally favoring the powerful. And in that respect, the author makes a good case that this is the norm except for an unusual period in the middle of the last century. The book also makes it clear how subjective and arbitrary the interpretation of the Constitution really is. In the end, the Constitution means whatever at least five ...more
Donya
Jan 14, 2015 Donya rated it it was amazing
I was able to read an ARC of this book - and it was an incisive history of the changing role of the Supreme Court in our democracy and how it affects the lives of all Americans. SCOTUS has become more and more central to our rights as citizens (or as corporations, for our current court), and Millhiser is an expert in that transition and what it means to us. It's very readable, and accessible even for non-experts, but there's even more in there for people who follow politics and the courts to ...more
Dave McNeely
Mar 29, 2016 Dave McNeely rated it liked it
This brief and pointedly-focused overview of the Supreme Court from Reconstruction to today provides an interesting take on the ways in which SCOTUS has privileged vested power interests in the US over common citizens. However, Millhiser too often ignores moments of progressivism throughout SCOTUS' history and, at times, contradicts his own understanding of the function of the Supreme Court by alternately criticizing and applauding the highest court's natural conservatism. A mirror image history ...more
Bryan
Apr 12, 2015 Bryan rated it really liked it
Recommended to Bryan by: Laura Beth Bugg
A riveting read, which rams home just how much America has changed, and simultaneously how little America has changed, over the last 150 years. The author deftly mixes in legal precedent and procedure with colourful stories of the judges, politicians and presidents who have shaped the USA's landscape of human rights and civiil rights. You won't have a true understanding of segregration, discrimination and "state's rights" until you read this book.
Naomi
Jun 24, 2016 Naomi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish, law
This was not what I was hoping for. It's mostly just a series of anecdotes of some of the key cases where scotus has ruled in favor of the big and wealthy and against the disadvantaged. I wanted something more methodological, more academic, with more proof for the argument. This is written much more for an average lay reader.
Jeff Steward
Jan 01, 2016 Jeff Steward rated it really liked it
Another must read for those that want to understand how our system really works, including the politics of unintended consequences. If you are a student of history, a political junkie, or just interested in the Supreme Court , this the book for you. Enjoy
Jim Blessing
Jun 12, 2015 Jim Blessing rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
This was an excellent book that documented how the Supreme Court throughout its history made rulings that constantly favorable the rich against the middle and lower classes. From slavery, child labor, voting restrictions et al - the list goes on and on.
John Holst
Feb 04, 2016 John Holst rated it it was amazing
Great, quick read. Provided insight into the Supreme Court and how their decisions impact everyone.....
Sue
Jan 17, 2016 Sue rated it it was ok
Rambles on and on, in a very disjointed fashion.
Reads like one big novel, expounding one big opinion
on well-known cases.
!Tæmbuŝu
Mar 17, 2015 !Tæmbuŝu marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: law
Sandi
May 08, 2016 Sandi rated it it was amazing
Supreme Court and the decisions comforted the rich not the afflicted interesting book which explains the above
Jvenook
Jvenook rated it really liked it
Feb 07, 2016
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“In many states, voters didn’t get to choose their own members of Congress. Members of Congress got to choose their own voters.” 5 likes
“In another opinion, Field mocked the very idea that African Americans cannot constitutionally be excluded from juries. If black people had such a right, Field chided, then states would have to give the same right to women!” 0 likes
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