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Curriculum Vitae

Holmes Devise



Current              Project


William M. Wiecek
College of Law
Syracuse University
Syracuse NY 13244
Phone: 315-443-4108
FAX: 315-443-5394

     ... and ...

Maxwell School
Syracuse University
Syracuse NY 13244
Phone: 315-443-4108
FAX: 315-443-5394


Winner of the
John Phillip Reid Prize
awarded by the American Society for Legal History
the best book in legal history
published during the calendar year 2006

Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise graphic


The History of the Supreme Court of the United States
Volume 12

The Birth of the Modern Constitution:
The United States Supreme Court,

William M. Wiecek 
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006

Wiecek: History of the Supreme Court of the U.S., Volume XII


The Birth of the Modern Constitution recounts the history of the United States Supreme Court in the momentous yet usually overlooked years between the constitutional revolution that occurred in the 1930s and Warren Court judicial activism in the 1950s.  The years 1941-53 saw the emergence of legal liberalism, in the divergent activist efforts of Hugo Black, William O. Douglas, Frank Murphy, and Wiley Rutledge.  The Second World War and early Cold War years of the Court in reality marked the birth of the constitutional order that dominated American public law in the later twentieth century.  That legal outlook emphasized judicial concern for civil rights and civil liberties, and reaction to the emergent national-security state.  The Stone and Vinson Courts consolidated the revolutionary accomplishments of the New Deal and affirmed the repudiation of classical legal thought but proved unable to provide a substitute for that powerful legitimating explanatory paradigm of law.  Hence the period bracketed by the dramatic moments of 1937 and 1954, written off as a forgotten time of failure and futility, was in reality the first phase of modern struggles to define the constitutional order that will dominate the twenty-first century.

History of the U.S. Supreme Court bookshelf


Updated 29 June 2011
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