Eisenhower vs. Warren: The Battle for Civil Rights and Liberties

Mutual acrimony defined the relationship between Dwight D. Eisenhower and Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren--so much so that the 34th president later said that the biggest mistake of his tenure was appointing "that dumb son of a bitch Earl Warren."

That volatile pairing is expertly chronicled by James F. Simon in Eisenhower vs. Warren, which explores the Brown v. Board of Education I & II court decisions as the pivotal, detrimental events in that relationship. These rulings deemed segregated schools unconstitutional (Brown I) and delivered instructions on how best to remedy the situation (Brown II). However, Eisenhower's refusal publicly to support Brown and his obstinance in not rallying the country behind it destroyed the relationship between the two men. Warren could never forgive Eisenhower for not backing the decisions, and Eisenhower could never forgive Warren's expansion of civil liberties at the expense of states' rights. 

Simon's professional expertise as dean emeritus of New York Law School provides the academic heft required to deliver a thorough investigation of the legal framework of Brown and other Warren Court decisions. He supports Warren's view that, had the incredibly popular president mounted a campaign favoring desegregation, African Americans would have gained civil rights benefits at least a decade earlier. Still, Simon strikes a balance not often seen when historians compare Eisenhower and Warren: he does so effectively without canonizing the former or condemning the latter. --William H. Firman Jr., historian and writer

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