July 13, 2005

Better Brown Book

by PG

Via 3YoH, I see that Prof. Smith of the Conglomerate is recommending that students entering law school this fall read Simple Justice. I read it for an undergrad class on Race & Constitution and liked it very much, but perhaps one's opinion of Brown v. Board plays a role here.

In fact, I'd recommend another book from that course, What Brown Should Have Said, over Simple Justice for the geekier 0L audience. While it lacks SJ's layman virtues, it's a pretty all-star exposure to constitutional law argument: Balkin, MacKinnon, McConnell, Michelman, Sunstein, Ely, Ackerman and Drew Days concurring in the basic holding, and African American NYU professor Derrick Bell in dissent.

Almost everyone is familiar with the basic facts of Brown, and though the background story of how the NAACP LDF brought the case and Warren cobbled together a unanimous Court is interesting, it's also in starring-Sidney-Poitier form. Shockingly, the Balkin collection -- much shorter than Simple Justice -- is not. But it has a website! and a table of contents that makes a great autograph collector if you skip class a lot and go to visitors' lectures instead.

Not that I would know anything about that. Go to class, rising 1Ls, and abstain from computer usage while there.

July 13, 2005 04:01 AM | TrackBack

I recently audited (as a senior citizen at low rates) an undergraduate course "Judicial Politics" offered by the Political Science department of a college in my neighborhood. One of the texts we used is "The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change?" by Gerald N. Rosenberg, published in 1991. It has an extensive section on what happened after Brown that suggests that Brown did not result in significant acceptance by the public. Last year Brown was revisited at age 50 and many commentators pointed to the problems with all deliberate speed.

The approach of political science to the U.S. Supreme differs somewhat, and perhaps significantly, from that of the legal academy, although some scholars have a foot in each camp. For over 50 years, I had focused on the legal camp. But my eyes have been opened by examining the views of politicial scientists.

Posted by: Shag from Brookline at July 13, 2005 07:51 AM

What Brown should have said, is a pretty cool book. For what it's worth, What Roe Should Have Said, which comes out this fall (Balkin, Amar, Siegel, West, Allen, Rubenfeld, Sunstein, Tushnet, Rosen, Paulsen, Collett) is even better.

Posted by: Will Baude at July 13, 2005 10:01 AM
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