Vanderbilt Law Review

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Book Reviews

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This is a deceptive book. It appears to be one more friendly appraisal of the work of the Warren Court--this time from the recent Solicitor General-surveying in giant steps and broad strokes its decisions in six major areas within the short space of 135 pages. On close reading it turns out to be a tough-minded essay written with notable lucidity, analytical density, and high professional competence. Moreover, it confronts directly and steadily the well-worn paradox or dilemma of the Supreme Court of the United States which must be both court and political institution, and it seriously attempts to appraise the Court's performance in both roles. Although Professor Cox writes of the Court with deep empathy and admiration, this is no unbroken paean of praise; he is at numerous points critical of the Court's performance. Indeed he is at times so critical that it brings to mind that old adage about a man's mother being "his best friend and severest critic." Finally, he leaves the reader with a picture of the Court's liberal momentum which is strikingly different from that sketched by many of its critics, especially those critics in the popular press or in the United States Congress.