Inherently Unequal by Lawrence Goldstone
The Betrayal of Equal Rights by the Supreme Court, 1865-1903

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Synopsis

A potent and original examination of how the Supreme Court subverted justice and empowered the Jim Crow era.

In the following years following the Civil War, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery; the 14th conferred citizenship and equal protection under the law to white and black; and the 15th gave black American males the right to vote. In 1875, the most comprehensive civil rights legislation in the nation's history granted all Americans "the full and equal enjoyment" of public accomodations. Just eight years later, the Supreme Court, by an 8-1 vote, overturned the Civil Rights Act as unconstitutional and, in the process, disemboweled the equal protection provisions of the 14th Amendment. Using court records and accounts of the period, Lawrence Goldstone chronicles how "by the dawn of the 20th century the U.S. had become the nation of Jim Crow laws, quasi-slavery, and precisely the same two-tiered system of justice that had existed in the slave era."

The very human story of how and why this happened make Inherently Unequal as important as it is provocative. Examining both celebrated decisions like Plessy v. Ferguson and those often overlooked, Goldstone demonstrates how the Supreme Court turned a blind eye to the obvious reality of racism, defending instead the business establishment and status quo--thereby legalizing the brutal prejudice that came to definite the Jim Crow era.
 

About Lawrence Goldstone

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Lawrence Goldstone is the author of Dark Bargain: Slavery, Profits, and the Struggle for the Constitution, and The Activist: John Marshall, Marbury v. Madison, and the Myth of Judicial Review. He lives in Westport, Connecticut.
 
Published January 18, 2011 by Walker Books. 252 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Law & Philosophy, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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The author’s view of the Court shares much with Peter Irons’s A People’s History of the Supreme Court (1999), and he also focuses on the decisions of the Chase, Waite and Fuller courts, which undid federal guarantees of equal rights in the aftermath of the Civil War.

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Publishers Weekly

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In this comprehensive and remarkably lucid study of post–Civil War Supreme Court decisions, Goldstone (The Activist) shows how the court's narrow interpretation of the 14th amendment—bestowing equal

Oct 25 2010 | Read Full Review of Inherently Unequal: The Betra...

Publishers Weekly

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In this comprehensive and remarkably lucid study of post–Civil War Supreme Court decisions, Goldstone (The Activist) shows how the court's narrow interpretation of the 14th amendment—bestowing "equal protection under the law" to all Americans, regardless of race—paved the way for future dec...

Oct 25 2010 | Read Full Review of Inherently Unequal: The Betra...

Book Reporter

Another of the justices who spoke prominently in the Plessy decision was Henry Brown, a Yankee from an industrialist background, whose views on women, Jews, Native Americans and Asians were “every bit as ‘unenlightened’ as his opinion of African Americans.” In the Plessy case, Brown wrote: “If th...

Mar 28 2011 | Read Full Review of Inherently Unequal: The Betra...

Los Angeles Times

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In the years immediately following the Civil War, America appeared to possess the will and the means to end racial segregation and give the same rights enjoyed by whites to its 4 million recently freed black slaves.

Jan 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Inherently Unequal: The Betra...

Bookmarks Magazine

Just eight years later, the Supreme Court, by an 8-1 vote, overturned the Civil Rights Act as unconstitutional and, in the process, disemboweled the equal protection provisions of the 14th Amendment.

Jan 31 2011 | Read Full Review of Inherently Unequal: The Betra...

The Roanoke Times

Throughout “Inherently Unequal,” the author chronicles a long list of Supreme Court rulings, from 1865 through the dawn of the 20th century, that nullified a succession of civil rights laws.

Apr 23 2012 | Read Full Review of Inherently Unequal: The Betra...

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