Book looks at controversial history of Supreme Court under FDR as tensions mount today

 September 20, 2023

Georgetown law professor Cliff Sloan recently published "The Court at War," a book detailing the Supreme Court's contentious years under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

However, the treatment meted out to Justice Brett Kavanagh and others suggests that it may be even more of a battleground today. 

Court ruled in the 1940s on flags, sterilization, and internment

Among the cases that Sloan reviewed was West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, which found that school children could not be compelled to salute the flag.

Another was Skinner v. Oklahoma, a 1942 decision that held laws requiring criminals to be sterilized were unconstitutional.

Sloan also looked at how the nation's highest judicial body upheld the internment of Japanese Americans in Korematsu v. United States, something he called "a deep stain on the country."

"The issues of the court are very important, but I also think it’s just a terrific story. You’ve got an incredible cast of very memorable characters in the justices," Sloan said of the era during an interview with the Washingtonian.

Conservative justices personally targeted

Meanwhile, Sloan is a harsh critic of the Supreme Court's current conservative-dominated lineup, calling many of its recent decisions "very, very troubling."

Granted, those words fall short of the vitriol justices faced last year after they ruled that the Constitution does not protect any right to abortion. Some of that hate was expressed in loud demonstrations outside their homes.

Other opponents reacted by publicizing the Washington, D.C. area school that Justice Amy Coney Barrett's children attend.

Assassination attempt on Justice Kavanaugh

What's more, 26-year-old Nicholas John Roske was charged with attempted murder after he showed up at Justice Brett Kavanaugh's house.

According to Fox News, Roske told police he was angry about the abortion ruling after being arrested outside the home in the early morning hours of June 8, 2022.

In addition to a handgun, Roske was also in possession of ammunition, a knife, zip ties, pepper spray, duct tape, and other items.

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