Shades of Freedom: Racial Politics and Presumptions of the American Legal Process

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Oxford University Press, 1998 M06 11 - 352 páginas
Few individuals have had as great an impact on the law--both its practice and its history--as A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. A winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, he has distinguished himself over the decades both as a professor at Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard, and as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals. But Judge Higginbotham is perhaps best known as an authority on racism in America: not the least important achievement of his long career has been In the Matter of Color, the first volume in a monumental history of race and the American legal process. Published in 1978, this brilliant book has been hailed as the definitive account of racism, slavery, and the law in colonial America. Now, after twenty years, comes the long-awaited sequel. In Shades of Freedom, Higginbotham provides a magisterial account of the interaction between the law and racial oppression in America from colonial times to the present, demonstrating how the one agent that should have guaranteed equal treatment before the law--the judicial system--instead played a dominant role in enforcing the inferior position of blacks. The issue of racial inferiority is central to this volume, as Higginbotham documents how early white perceptions of black inferiority slowly became codified into law. Perhaps the most powerful and insightful writing centers on a pair of famous Supreme Court cases, which Higginbotham uses to portray race relations at two vital moments in our history. The Dred Scott decision of 1857 declared that a slave who had escaped to free territory must be returned to his slave owner. Chief Justice Roger Taney, in his notorious opinion for the majority, stated that blacks were "so inferior that they had no right which the white man was bound to respect." For Higginbotham, Taney's decision reflects the extreme state that race relations had reached just before the Civil War. And after the War and Reconstruction, Higginbotham reveals, the Courts showed a pervasive reluctance (if not hostility) toward the goal of full and equal justice for African Americans, and this was particularly true of the Supreme Court. And in the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which Higginbotham terms "one of the most catastrophic racial decisions ever rendered," the Court held that full equality--in schooling or housing, for instance--was unnecessary as long as there were "separate but equal" facilities. Higginbotham also documents the eloquent voices that opposed the openly racist workings of the judicial system, from Reconstruction Congressman John R. Lynch to Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan to W. E. B. Du Bois, and he shows that, ironically, it was the conservative Supreme Court of the 1930s that began the attack on school segregation, and overturned the convictions of African Americans in the famous Scottsboro case. But today racial bias still dominates the nation, Higginbotham concludes, as he shows how in six recent court cases the public perception of black inferiority continues to persist. In Shades of Freedom, a noted scholar and celebrated jurist offers a work of magnificent scope, insight, and passion. Ranging from the earliest colonial times to the present, it is a superb work of history--and a mirror to the American soul.

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Any scholar of history and law must have this book in their personal library.
-Vanessa Holloway, author of Getting Away With Murder; In Search of Federal of Enforcement; Black Rights in the Reconstruction Era.

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Contenido

1 My FortyYear Journey in Formulating the Precepts
3
2 The Precept of Inferiority
7
3 The Ancestry of Inferiority 16191662
18
4 The Ideology of Inferiority 16621830
28
5 The Politics of Inferiority 18301865
53
From Nondisclosure to Abolition 17871866
68
7 The Dream of Freedom and Its Demise
81
The 1883 Civil Rights Cases
94
11 Unequal Justice in the State Criminal Justice System
127
The Charles Evans Hughes Supreme Court Era 19301941
152
13 Voting Rights Pluralism and Political Power
169
Epilogue
183
The Ten Precepts of American Slavery Jurisprudence
195
Articles published by A Leon Higginbotham Jr
207
Notes
213
Index
279

Plessy v Ferguson A Case Wrongly Decided
108
10 Too Inferior To Be Their Neighbor
119
Table of Cases
300
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Página 216 - The life of the law has not been logic : it has been experience. The felt necessities of the time, the prevalent moral and political theories, intuitions of public policy, avowed or unconscious, even the prejudices which judges share with their fellow-men, have had a good deal more to do than the syllogism in determining the rules by which men should be governed.
Página 76 - States ; and such citizens of every race and color, without regard to any previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall have the same right in every State and Territory in the United States to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, and give evidence, to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold and convey real and personal property, and to full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the...
Página 198 - And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God...
Página 116 - But in view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.
Página 9 - Such considerations apply with added force to children in grade and high schools. To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.
Página 116 - The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country. And so it is, in prestige, in achievements, in education, in wealth and in power. So, I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time, if it remains true to its great heritage and holds fast to the principles of constitutional liberty.
Página 128 - While doing this, you can be sure in the future, as in the past, that you and your families will be surrounded by the most patient, faithful, 'law-abiding, and unresentful people that the world has seen. As we have proved our loyalty to you in the past, in nursing your children, watching by the sick-bed of your mothers and fathers, and often following them with tear-dimmed eyes to their graves...

Acerca del autor (1998)

A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. is Public Service Professor of Jurisprudence at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and Of Counsel to Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, & Garrison. He was formerly Chief Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His landmark volume, In the Matter of Color, won the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award and the National Bar Association's Literary Award.

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