A Wild Justice

A Wild Justice
A Wild Justice

In 1972, the Supreme Court struck down Georgia’s death penalty law. Since Georgia’s law closely resembled those in the 40 other states with capital punishment, most legal experts believed Furman v. Georgia meant the end of executions in America. The victory was highly improbable. The constitutionality of capital punishment had been axiomatic for 200 years, until, in 1962, the largely forgotten Justice Arthur Goldberg, and his clerk, Alan Dershowitz, suggested otherwise in an unusual dissent from a denial of certiorari in a capital case. Goldberg’s opinion spurred an underfunded band of civil rights attorneys to begin a quixotic crusade that produced the stunning 1972 victory and, four years later, a crushing defeat when the Court reversed itself following a brilliant oral argument by Solicitor General Robert Bork. Drawing on interviews with law clerks, litigators, and four years of archival research, A Wild Justice is an extraordinary, behind-the-scenes look at the Supreme Court, the Justices, and the political complexities of the most racially charged and morally vexing issue in America.

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