Article by Ann Manser
August 14, 2017
Leslie Goldstein examines history of Supreme Court, minority groups
A new book
by Leslie F. Goldstein, who is Judge Hugh M. Morris Professor Emerita
of Political Science at the University of Delaware, takes an in-depth
look at two centuries of U.S. Supreme Court rulings involving racial
The book, published July 28 by Edward Elgar Publishing in its Elgar
Studies in Law and Society series, examines Supreme Court cases in
In The U.S. Supreme Court and Racial Minorities: Two Centuries of Judicial Review on Trial,
Goldstein considers the treatment by the court of four racial minority
groups — Indians, African Americans, Asians and Hispanics.
She doesn’t ask whether the high court got its decisions “right” but
examines how the court compared to other branches of the federal
government at the time and whether the justices, with their lifetime
appointments designed to be independent of politics, did a better job of
protecting racial minorities than elected officials did.
The book concludes that judicial review was not a panacea but that it
did help racial minority groups in America. The justices were
especially willing to check oppressive policies by the states and
administrative abuses by the federal government, Goldstein finds. She
also details the Supreme Court’s leadership in issues of
African-American civil rights from 1911-89.
The book has been praised by legal scholars.
“This is a remarkable book, and essential reading for anyone who
cares about how civil rights are defined and protected in America,” said
Keith E. Whittington of Princeton University.
Mark Tushnet of Harvard Law School called it “an important work for
scholars and others interested in the Supreme Court and the history of
race in the United States.”
The Elgar Studies in Law and Society series publishes books that
reflect cutting-edge scholarship on the role of the law in modern
society and its intersection with social structures and institutions.
Goldstein specializes in American Constitutional law, comparative law
and courts, gender and law, history of political theory and American
political thought. Her previous books include Constitutional and Legal Rights of Women; Constituting Federal Sovereignty: The European Union in Comparative Context and Contemporary Cases in Women’s Rights.
She joined the UD faculty in 1973, was appointed the Judge Hugh M. Morris Professor in 2001 and retired in 2012.