Skip to content

Mark Tushnet, Making Constitutional Law Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court, 1961-1991 (Oxford Univ. Press 1997).

Abstract: Making Constitutional Law: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court, 1961-1991 focuses on the second half of a brilliant and unique career. When tapped by LBJ in 1967 to ascend to the High Court, the seasoned Marshall - as the first African-American Justice - brought desegregation to the bench in word, thought, and deed. But as Mark V. Tushnet illustrates in this book, Marshall, a Great Society liberal, brought many other progressive concepts and convictions. This book, the first to fully utilize the papers of Justices Marshall and William J. Brennan, describes Marshall's approach to constitutional law in areas ranging from civil rights and the death penalty to abortion and affirmative action. Tushnet, who served as a law clerk for Marshall in the early 197Os, gives ample attention to the Court's operations during Marshall's tenure, the relations among the judges, and the particular roles played by Chief Justice Warren Burger, Justice Brennan, and Justice Antonin Scalia. Making Constitutional Law aptly locates the Supreme Court of Marshall's tenure within its rich political and historical contexts, showing how the nation's drift toward conservatism affected the Court's debates and decisions, and how Marshall's ardent liberalism became increasingly isolated. Making Constitutional Law will appeal to students of law, history, politics, and recent American culture.