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The History of the Supreme Court Lecture

The History of the Supreme Court

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Publisher's Summary

For more than two centuries, the Supreme Court has exerted extraordinary influence over the way we live our daily lives. The Court has defined the boundaries of our speech and actions since its first meeting in 1790, adding to our history books names such as John Marshall, Louis Brandeis, Hugo Black, Earl Warren, Thurgood Marshall, Warren Burger, William Rehnquist, and many others.

Have you ever wondered what goes into shaping the Court's decisions - or the beliefs of its justices? Or how the nine justices blend divergent and often strongly conflicting philosophies to reach decisions that reflect consensus - or sometimes fail to? How even a single change in the Court's personnel can dramatically alter not only the Court's ideological balance but its cooperative chemistry, as well? Or what it actually sounded like in the Court as some of the most important cases in our history were argued? This series of 36 clear and insightful lectures - delivered by an award-winning teacher and widely respected authority on the Supreme Court - answers these questions and many more as it traces the development of the Court from a body having little power or prestige to its current status as, "the most powerful and prestigious judicial institution in the world."

The lectures are rich in biographical snapshots of not only the justices but also the advocates who have stood before them and the dozens of ordinary men and women whose cases have reached the Court. Several historical recordings are also highlighted, giving you a front-row seat as you hear lawyers actually arguing before the Court, as well as the justices' replies.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2003 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2003 The Great Courses

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  •  
    Bill Martin Florida 02-26-15
    Bill Martin Florida 02-26-15 Member Since 2016

    Bill Martin

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    "Professor's Bias Does Not Detract"

    Though I've enjoyed quite a few TGC courses, this is the first time I have listened through a lecture series packaged as a "book" on Audible. The unity of the course was probably enhanced by the platform. which formatted the individual lectures as chapters. The only downside was having no access to the course notes. (The Teaching Company does not normally provide them a la carte.) This course surveys the Supreme Court as a living institution from its beginnings until the beginning of the 21st century. (The course is copyrighted 2003.) Dr. Peter Irons is an unquestionably qualified guide to the subject, having both written and taught on the Supreme Court from the perspective of a lawyer who belongs to its bar.

    Speaking of perspective, Irons admits his filter at the beginning of the course and several times where his narrative pertains to issues that reveal his bias. His career in civil liberties law has clearly shaped his thinking. And although I would differ with Dr. Irons politically and ideologically on several points, I did not feel his stance took away from the quality or content of the course in the slightest. The unique point of view of a scholar (who knows how to be dispassionate and objective) who also has spent his career in the field of practice, passionately arguing for his convictions, opens an aware listener's mind to a deeper, richer experience of the subject. I disagree with reviews that downgrade the course because of Irons's bias.

    The content of the course focuses on key members of the court and key cases which support the theme: individual liberty in tension with the power of the state. For me, it was an entry into a facet of civil government and American history long obscured by educational emphasis on the legislative and executive branches. As a member of a church that maintains "courts," I found the overlapping applications fertile and fascinating.

    One more item worth mentioning: an advantage of this audio presentation is the several examples of actual Supreme Court proceedings--short samples of the voices of individual justices or oral arguments. I found that fascinating. One could only wish more recent pieces were added in an updated version.

    I highly recommend this course to anyone interested in law, history, civil rights or political studies.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 02-07-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Every US citizen should listen to this book."

    The Supreme Court distills the morals and values of the American culture into a filter that screens out laws, for better or worse, deemed ill-suited for the American public. Every American would do well to understand the historic strengths and weaknesses of this institution. This book is a great tool in setting a foundation for that understanding.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan 07-25-15
    Jan 07-25-15
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    "Ends too soon"

    I was disappointed that it ends at about the year 2000. But that's my only complaint. Very interesting and engaging. Easy to listen to, easy to understand. Enjoyable.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    GEORGE Waverly, OH, United States 09-22-13
    GEORGE Waverly, OH, United States 09-22-13 Member Since 2011

    Hobby- Military History Occupation- Retired Commander USN; Retired Director of Quality Assurance; Graduate Liberty University, Lynchburg VA; Residence-Waverly Ohio

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    "Great Lecture Series !"

    I stumbled upon this collection of lectures while reading a book about Roosevelt's court packing plan. In my opinion this is a very good series of lectures for use by a layman that is looking to increase his/her knowledge of Supreme Court History. While watching confirmation hearings for Court Justices in the past, I found my lack of knowledge pertaining to major decisions rendered by the Court in the last 100 years bothersome. These lectures helped me address that weakness. The material is presented in a manner that allows an individual a laymen to gain a general understanding of the workings of the Court, and the basis for many of the major decisions in recent history.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 02-06-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Perfect"

    I have about 20 downloads from audible and this is by far the best one so far.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lattetown Seattle, WA 05-30-16
    lattetown Seattle, WA 05-30-16

    I like book when they are read... To me with different voices for all the characters... By a talented author. ~Haiku

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    "Outstanding Lectures!"

    This is the best lecture series I've listen to this year... I've learned more about American History from the perspective of how the US Supreme court and it's justices have changed over the course of two centuries. Peter Irons is gifted with a very engaging voice and his personal experience with the defendants of the Japanese Internment bring weight to his insights.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric R. Mortensen Philadelphia 05-16-16
    Eric R. Mortensen Philadelphia 05-16-16 Member Since 2015

    Dog lover

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    "Entry level education to debates on American law"

    My understanding of the history of American law and the civil rights struggle was dramatically informed by an understanding of the men and women that has sat on the cost and the context of the time in which they lived. I also found a greater justification for my opinions differing with court justices that I felt had departed from the objectives exposed by the founders in the Federalist Papers. An excellent read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L.D. 04-21-16
    L.D. 04-21-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Thought provoking & intriguing!"

    This lecture series is a must-have for anybody interested in the history of our Supreme Court. Whether you have an interest in the law, the judiciary, or even just history in general, this series is for you. I just finished listening to it and am about to start it again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill 03-26-15
    Bill 03-26-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Greatest Great Course"

    Best course I have taken. He was an outstanding lecturer. Material was fascinating and presented with passion. I'll take again.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer 02-06-15

    A learner, talker, and teacher.

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    "Interesting, if biased"

    This was a very interesting overview of the history of the Supreme Court by a professor who has done his homework in the primary sources: not only the decisions themselves, but even some of the individuals who are "the names behind the names". Professor Irons has his biases, and he wears them on his sleeve. I appreciated his honesty about that, but I wonder what he left out simply by not choosing to discuss the cases we didn't hear about. All in all, a worthwhile investment of time.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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