G. Edward White
Law in American History
Volume III: 1930-2000
Oxford University Press 2019
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in LawNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network December 17, 2019 Mark Klobas
For nearly two decades the renowned legal historian G. Edward White has been writing a multi-volume history of law in America. In his third and concluding volume, Law in American History, Volume III: 1930-2000 (Oxford University Press, 2019), he surveys the many developments in American law from the middle of the 20th century to the case of Bush v. Gore. One of the most important of these developments was the emergence of American jurisprudence, a philosophy of how judges should apply the law. As White demonstrates, this new interpretation of judges as individual actors in the shaping of legal interpretation emerged while federal agencies moved toward agency governance, which was underpinned by the notion of a factual, scientific basis towards decision-making. At the same time, lawmakers pursued what White terms the “statutorification” of common law, while all branches wrestled with the need to establish the legal framework for the developments in mass communications that characterized the era. Throughout all of this the Supreme Court played a dominant role in shaping American law and White analyzes their decisions in a half-dozen fields, including the often controversial rulings dealing with the nation’s political process, culminating with their decisive intervention in the presidential election of 2000.