This author appeared at the 2009 festival. Please view the list of authors appearing at this year's festival or see our suggestions for similar authors below.
Lucas A. Powe, Jr.
"The Supreme Court follows the election returns," the fictional Mr. Dooley observed a hundred years ago. And for all our ideals and dreams of a disinterested judiciary, above the political fray, it seems Mr. Dooley was right. In Powe's engaging – and disturbing – new book, The Supreme Court and the American Elite, 1789-2008, a leading historian of the Court reveals the close fit between its decisions and the nation's politics. The story begins with the creation of the Constitution and ends with the June 2008 decisions on the rights of detainees at GuantánamoBay. Rendering crisp (and often controversial) judgments on key decisions from Marbury v. Madison to the War on Terror, Powe shows how virtually every major Supreme Court ruling, however deftly framed in constitutional terms, suited the wishes of the most powerful politicians of the time. This history reflects a changing Court, from the country's early struggles over commerce and transportation to the torturous justifications of slavery before the Civil War, to a post–New Deal interest in ending segregation, controlling criminal procedure, and addressing knotty questions arising from the Cold War. Through all of this, the Court emerges as part of a ruling regime, doing its best to implement the regime's policies. Powe clerked for Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas before joining the University of Texas School of Law faculty in 1971. Previously , reflecting a split career as a historian and a First Amendment scholar, especially of the electronic media, his three award-winning books were American Broadcasting and the First Amendment (California 1987), The Fourth Estate and the Constitution (California 1991), and The Warren Court and American Politics (Harvard 2000). Additionally he has co-authored Regulating Broadcast Programming (MIT 1994) and written scores of articles. Powe was also a principal commentator on the 2007 four-part PBS series "The Supreme Court." He is also a Professor of Government and has been a visiting professor at Berkeley, Connecticut, and Georgetown.