Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Nomination that Changed America by Will Haygood (2015)
Haygood is the author of The Butler (an excellent movie too) and this book on Thurgood Marshall is as compelling as a stimulating novel but the people are real, and even more so because they span generations in their role in our government for good or mostly I would say, ill. (Strom Thurmond, may he rest in hell, who dares to question Marshall on the topic of “miscegenation” while he himself had started an affair with a 16 year old black girl in his household service. [can you say coercion? or statutory rape perhaps?) The bastard lived to be 100 and spent most of that time trying to stop progress, especially racial equality. (This was about 7 years after the Loving decision that ruled mixed race marriage legal.)
Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America, is a MUST READ book. Not only is it a good read, it exposes with objectivity that I would not be able to manage (anger, horror, etc. would be my view) what America was like at the time of his nomination under the Presidency of L.B. Johnson (sixties in other words). The odious Senator Sam Ervin, and other characters like Strom, are brought to life, exposing their bigotry, corporatism even then, and sheer meanness in their grilling of Marshall with arcane and irrelevant questions, topped by entrapment style “Constitution is a living document” or the words exactly and only as men from a world long ago meant them. In other words, if Marshall opted for strict constitutionalism, by which I do not think the senators even included the Bill of Rights (except obviously for the Second Amendment) as completely legitimate law, the senator would be asking Marshall to declare slavery legal again.
I would include more detail here, but I had to return the book to the library. I may check it out again after I knock off some of the other 50 or so I have piled up, and will update this page when I do get it back.
This link is to the 2000 edition, the one I am reading is 1992 but not as dated as one might think given that it begins at the beginning of America’s founding and all the information up to then and is extremely detailed and analyzed and described very well.
This book answers the many questions I have had over the years of how we ended up with an essentially two-party system that is run like two warring corporations for a monopoly of the United States government as the prize.
I knew that the Founding Fathers had not begun nor wanted political parties, but apparently not “until they began running parties themselves.” Thomas Jefferson was pro-party. Alexander Hamilton “associated parties with ‘ambition, avarice, personal animosity.'” I’m going to side with Hamilton on this point. James Madison “wrote in Federalist Number Ten of ‘the mischiefs of faction. John Adams expressed ‘dread’ toward ‘division of the republic into to great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other.'” Now that was prescient!