Monday, April 13, 2015

Injustices - Ian Millhiser

My review of Injustices by Ian Millhiser first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers. I am reposting it today with their permission.

First line: "On a porch in Colfax, Louisiana, eight wounded men lay shielded from the rain."

Armed with data and passion, Ian Millhiser dissects the annals of the Supreme Court of the United States to illustrate how the unelected arm of the federal government has historically favored the interests of conservative politics and big business over the welfare of individuals. From early workers and civil rights cases to modern health care and campaign finance disputes, Millhiser's first book scrutinizes decisions that have shaped the American landscape.

The U.S. Supreme Court is responsible for ensuring the constitutional rights of all Americans and the justices with performing their duties through a non-partisan perspective. But evidence doesn't support this. Millhiser cites cases such as Lochner v. New York, which struck down workers' rights in favor of employers' rights to create unrestricted contracts, and Buck v. Bell allowing a young woman to be sterilized under the auspices she was an imbecile and should not be allowed to perpetuate her bloodline. Through precedent, definition, anecdotal and other supporting evidence, Millhiser shows how such decisions are unsubstantiated, driven by personal bias not constitutional mandate.

To contrast this, Millhiser demonstrates how less common decisions in favor of individuals, like upholding the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, improve the nation as a whole and confirm the senselessness of flagrant scare tactics.

Injustices is an eye-opening look at the highest court in the United States. Easily accessible to readers with little legal background, this is a powerful study of the branch of American government most often left unchecked.

Injustices is available in hardcover (ISBN: 978-1568584560) from Nation Books. It is also available as an unabridged audiobook (ISBN: 978-1494579524), narrated by Joe Barrett, from Tantor Audio.

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