Publication Date: New York: Oxford University Press, 1978, 2001
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1979, The Dred Scott Case is a masterful examination of the most famous example of judicial failure--the case referred to as "the most frequently overturned decision in history." On March 6, 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney delivered the Supreme Court's decision against Dred Scott, a slave who maintained he had been emancipated as a result of having lived with his master in the free state of Illinois and in federal territory where slavery was forbidden by the Missouri Compromise. This was the first instance in which the Supreme Court invalidated a major piece of federal legislation. The decision declared that Congress had no power to prohibit slavery in the federal territories, thereby striking a severe blow at the legitimacy of the emerging Republican party and intensifying the sectional conflict over slavery.
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation by Steve Luxenberg
Publication Date: New York: W. W. Norton, 2019
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)
Brown V. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and its Troubled Legacy by James T. Patterson
Publication Date: New York: Oxford University Press, 2001
Remembering Brown at Fifty by Orville Vernon Burton & David O'Brien, Eds.
Publication Date: Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009
Commemorating Brown: The Social Psychology of Racism and Discrimination by Glenn Adams, et al., Eds.
Publication Date: Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2007
Voting Rights Act of 1965
Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America by Ari Berman
Publication Date: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015
Shelby County v. Holder (2013)
One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy by Carol Anderson; Foreward by Dick Durbin
Publication Date: New York, NY : Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018
Carol Anderson, professor of African American Studies at Emory University, has detailed the history of political suppression of African Americans, in her seminal work White Rage. In With One Person, No Vote she focusses on the history the rollbacks to African American participation in the vote since the 2013 Supreme Court decision that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Known as the Shelby ruling, this decision effectively allowed districts with a demonstrated history of racial discrimination to change voting requirements without approval from the Department of Justice. Focusing on the aftermath of Shelby, Anderson follows the astonishing story of government-dictated racial discrimination unfolding before our very eyes as more and more states adopt voter suppression laws. In gripping, enlightening detail she explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures. And with vivid characters, she explores the resistance: the organizing, activism, and court battles to restore the basic right to vote to all Americans.
14th and 15th Amendments
On Account of Race: The Supreme Court, White Supremacy, and the Ravaging of African American Voting Rights by Lawrence Goldstone
On Account Of Race tells the story of an American tragedy, the only occasion in United States history in which a group of citizens who had been granted the right to vote then had it stripped away. Even more unjust was that this theft of voting rights was done with full approval, even the sponsorship, of the United States Supreme Court. Beginning in 1876, the Court systematically dismantled both the equal protection guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment, at least for African-Americans, and what seemed to be the guarantee of the right to vote in the Fifteenth. And so, of the more than 500,000 African-Americans who had registered to vote across the South, the vast majority former slaves, by 1906, less than ten percent remained. Many of those were terrified to go the polls, lest they be beaten, murdered, or have their homes burned to the ground. None of this was done in the shadows--those determined to wrest the vote from black Americans could not have been more boastful in either intent or execution. But the Court chose to ignore the obvious and wrote decisions at odds with the Constitution, preferring to instead reinforce the racial stereotypes of the day.