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An insightful and dramatic account of religious conflicts that keep America divided?from the acclaimed author of The Courage of Their Convictions As the United States has become increasingly conservative, both politically and socially, in recent years, the fight between the religious right and those advocating for the separation of church and state has only intensified. As he did in The Courage of Their Convictions, award-winning author and legal expert Peter Irons combines an approachable, journalistic narrative style with intimate first-person accounts from both sides of the conflict. Set against the backdrop of American history, politics, and law, God on Trial relates the stories of six recent cases in communities that have become battlefields in America?s growing religious wars.
This is a well written book documenting six important cases concerning separation of church and state. They are all fairly recent cases, too. The first chapter contains a short history of America's lack of tolerance for religious difference, and shows why we need separation of church and state.
In 1954 the U. S. Supreme Court sounded the death knell for school segregation with its decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. So goes the conventional wisdom. Weaving together vivid portraits of lawyers and such judges as Thurgood Marshall and Earl Warren, sketches of numerous black children throughout history whose parents joined lawsuits against Jim Crow schools, and gripping courtroom drama scenes, Irons shows how the erosion of the Brown decision--especially by the Court's rulings over the past three decades--has led to the "resegregation" of public education in America. .
Irons, a civil liberties lawyer and history professor, brings to life the common people whose real-life circumstances proved precedent setting in Supreme Court decisions. He focuses on the human aspect of decisions, from the impact of the slave trade and related issues in the formation of the nation to the contradictory values of the founding fathers and subsequent lawmakers. Irons reveals that the Bill of Rights was not central to the views of one founder, James Madison; the focus on individual rights was actually a compromise designed to secure ratification of the Constitution. Irons examines how the law has intersected with politics, from the passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments during the radical reconstruction period through the Jim Crow era, when blacks were stripped of previously adjudicated rights. Irons clearly and repeatedly shows how the law reflects political reality above esoteric legal mandates. Irons continues his analysis to 1992, with case histories exploring the political context of the times. His work gives contextual richness to the history of an important American institution.
Recent changes in the Supreme Court have placed the venerable institution at the forefront of current affairs, making this comprehensive and engaging work as timely as ever. In the tradition of Howard Zinn's classic A People's History of the United States, Peter Irons chronicles the decisions that have influenced virtually every aspect of our society, from the debates over judicial power to controversial rulings in the past regarding slavery, racial segregation, and abortion, as well as more current cases about school prayer, the Bush/Gore election results, and "enemy combatants." A comprehensive history of the people and cases that have changed history, this is the definitive account of the nation's highest court.
Peter Irons is a well known political and legal historian at University of California San Diego. His latest work traces the rise of the imperial presidency and how it has trumped Congress's constitutional power of declaring war. Irons sees this as a dangerous usurption of Congress's powers, and a drift towards militarism and an unaccountable presidency.
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