Melvin I. Urofsky

Mar 11, 2022

Dissent and the Supreme Court

Its Role in the Court's History and the Nation's Constitutional Dialogue

Vintage 2017

In his major workDissent and the Supreme Court: Its Role in the Court's History and the Nation's Constitutional Dialogue (Vintage, 2017), acclaimed historian and judicial authority Melvin Urofsky examines the great dissents throughout the Court's long history. Constitutional dialogue is one of the ways in which we as a people reinvent and reinvigorate our democratic society. The Supreme Court has interpreted the meaning of the Constitution, acknowledged that the Court's majority opinions have not always been right, and initiated a critical discourse about what a particular decision should mean before fashioning subsequent decisions--largely through the power of dissent.

Urofsky shows how the practice grew slowly but steadily, beginning with the infamous and now overturned case of Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) during which Chief Justice Roger Taney's opinion upheld slavery and ending with the present age of incivility, in which reasoned dialogue seems less and less possible. Dissent on the court and off, Urofsky argues in this major work, has been a crucial ingredient in keeping the Constitution alive and must continue to be so.

Melvin I. Urofsky is an American historian and professor emeritus at Virginia Commonwealth University.

William Domnarski is a longtime lawyer who before and during has been a literary guy, with a Ph.D. in English. He's written five books on judges, lawyers, and courts, two with Oxford, one with Illinois, one with Michigan, and one with the American Bar Association.

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William Domnarski

William Domnarski is a longtime lawyer who before and during has been a literary guy, with a Ph.D. in English. He's written five books on judges, lawyers, and courts, two with Oxford, one with Illinois, one with Michigan, and one with the American Bar Association.

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