“Unlike Thurgood Marshall’s opinion in the foreword that the framers of the Constitution should be blamed for its inequities and compromises involving slavery and women, constitutional authority Joseph asserts that its misinterpretation by Supreme Court justices, rather than the document itself, was responsible for such erroneous decisions as the Dred Scott case, which, he alleges, helped precipitate the Civil War. The case is among what he considers the court’s 20 “worst” decisions as selected by legal associations and law professors, either because they reflect poor reasoning or adversely affect the freedom of citizens. The cases and the cited dissents, which make instructive reading, concern freedom of religion, association, speech, right to privacy, equal protection under the law, criminal rights and access to justice. Included are the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson “Jim Crow” case, and the WW II internment of citizens of Japanese origin, Georgia sodomy laws, Ralph Ginzburg’s obscenity conviction and a June 1987 decision involving an FBI search of a black family in their Minnesota home, which, in the author’s view, undercuts the Fourth Amendment guarantee of liberty and privacy. Photos.”
Black Mondays: Worst Decisions of the Supreme Court presents a history of the United States via the mistakes of the nation’s highest court. It was the United States Supreme Court that denied women the right to vote. This decision, Minor v. Sappersett, was overturned by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution that gave women the right to vote.
Similarly, the Dred Scott case, that held that African-Americans were not citizens of the United States, was over-ruled by the Civil War, and the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the
Newly added to this book are four cases. These include Bush v. Gore, the 2000 case where the Supreme Court overruled the Florida Supreme Court and proclaimed George W. Bush president of the United States; Kelo v. Town of New London, where the court authorized a taking of property for private development and two criminal cases where defendants’ treaty rights were disregarded. In one of these cases the FBI sent agents into Mexico to kidnap a person accused on murder. A treaty with Mexico prohibited the abduction but the Supreme Court ignored the treaty and ruled the “arrest” legal. In the other new case, a treaty with another nation requires that the embassy be informed when foreign nationals are arrested in the United States. The Supreme Court ruled that violation of this treaty does not constitute a defense to a crime.
Some of the decisions in this book have been overturned by more recent Supreme Court decisions. For example, when this book was first published in 1987, the Supreme Court ruled that state laws against sodomy between consenting adults were constitutional. Similarly, the first edition of this book included a case upholding a life sentence for commission of three minor crimes. This case was overturned recently under the Eight Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
About the Author
Joel D. Joseph is the author of ten books. A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, Mr. Joseph holds a degree in economics from Northwestern University.
Mr. Joseph’s constitutional law professor at Georgetown was Chester Antieau. It was during Prof. Antieau’s constitutional law class that the germination of this book began.
Mr. Joseph has presented many cases to the Supreme Court, rep-resenting a diverse client base. His clients included more than sixty members of Congress, among them Senators Eugene McCarthy and Trent Lott. He also represented Madeline Murray O’Hair, the director of the American Atheists.
Joseph has also represented many trade unions including the United Steelworkers Union, the Teamsters, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Screen Actors Guild and Laborers International Union. In one of these cases, Joseph challenged the constitutionality of the North American Free Trade Agreement. He argued that NAFTA was a treaty under the constitution, and that as such required two-third’s senate approval, which it did not receive.
Joseph resides in California.