Bruce W. DearstyneNov 11, 2022
The Crucible of Public Policy
New York Courts in the Progressive Era
State University of New York Press 2022
During the early twentieth century New York State, with its settlement houses, muckraking journalists, labor unions and national political leaders like Theodore Roosevelt, was central to the political ferment of the Progressive Era. And in that time, the New York State Court of Appeals—the state’ highest court--made vitally important decisions on the constitutional legitimacy of laws relating to public health, personal liberty, privacy, the regulation of businesses, working hours for women, and compensation for workers injured on the job.
The Court of Appeals, Bruce Dearstyne argues in his new book, was in these years a crucible where new and complex public issues were debated and decided. New York State was large in population (and thus spoke loudly in Congress and the Electoral College) and was at the center of fierce debates over topics such as corporate power, labor rights, public health.
In The Crucible of Public Policy: New York Courts in the Progressive Era (SUNY Press, 2022), Dearstyne argues that the court’s pathbreaking decisions in the Progressive Era echo into our own times. Indeed, he concludes, it was second in importance only to the United States Supreme Court.
Robert W. Snyder, Manhattan Borough Historian and professor emeritus of American Studies and Journalism at Rutgers University. Email: email@example.com.