Few individuals did more to shape the political and legal landscape of twentieth century America than Earl Warren. Throughout fifty years of public service, Warren pursued a Progressive vision of ethical and effective government that brought moral integrity to the nation's public policies, especially in the fields of racial relations, criminal justice, and freedom of marital association. Warren's path-breaking approach to legal writing and his management of the responsibilities of the Office of Chief Justice encouraged public understanding of and support for the work of the Supreme Court. But his controversial years in California state government and as Chair of the Warren Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy also featured serious lapses in judgment and uncritical deference to authority figures in matters of national security that have clouded his legacy. This thoughtful and readable biography offers an updated and balanced appraisal of Warren's leading social justice decisions and a liberal critique of his failings that provides new insights into Warren, the man, the jurist, and the leader.
Paul Moke is professor of political science at Wilmington College.