Cover image for May it please the court : courts, kids, and the constitution
May it please the court : courts, kids, and the constitution
Irons, Peter H., 1940-
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Publication Information:
New York : New Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xiii, 348 pages ; 23 cm.
School district of Abington Township v. Schempp (1963): Bible reading and the Lord's Prayer in schools -- Tinker v. Des Moines school district (1969): wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam war -- Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur (1974): mandatory maternity leave for pregnant teachers -- Milliken, governor of Michigan v. Bradley (1974): busing across district lines for racial balance -- Goss, superintendent of schools v. Lopez (1975): due process hearings for suspended students -- Ingraham v. Wright, school principal (1977): "Cruel and unusual punishment" and paddling students -- Plyler, superintendent of schools v. Doe (1982): barring "illegal alien" children from schools -- Board of education, Island Trees school district v. Pico (1982): removing "objectionable" books from school library -- New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985): power of school officials to search student belongings -- Bethel school district v. Fraser (1986): punishing "vulgar" speech at school assembly -- Edwards, governor of Louisiana v. Aguillard (1987): "equal time" for evolution and creationism in schools -- Hazelwood school district v. Kuhlmeier (1988): censoring high school newspapers -- Board of education, Westside schools v. Mergens (1990): equal access for religious clubs in school facilities -- Lee, school principal v. Weisman (1992): prayers at school commencement ceremony -- Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills school district (1993): sign-language interpreter in religious school -- Vernonia school district v. Acton: mandatory drug testing for student athletes.
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KF4118 .C68 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Until The New Press first published May It Please the Court in 1993, few Americans knew that every case argued before the Supreme Court since 1955 had been recorded. The original book-and-tape set was a revelation to readers and reviewers, quickly becoming a bestseller and garnering praise across the nation.

May It Please the Court includes both live recordings and transcripts of oral arguments in twenty-three of the most significant cases argued before the Supreme Court in the second half of the twentiethcentury. This edition makes the recordings available on an MP3 audio CD. Through the voices of some of the nation's most important lawyers and justices, including Thurgood Marshall, Archibald Cox, and Earl Warren, it offers a chance to hear firsthand our justice system at work, in the highest court of the land.

Cases included: Gideon v. Wainwright (right to counsel) Abington School District v. Schempp (school prayer) Miranda v. Arizona ("the right to remain silent") Roe v. Wade (abortion rights) Edwards v. Aguillard (teaching "creationism") Regents v. Bakke (reverse discrimination) Wisconsin v. Yoder (compulsory schooling for the Amish) Tinker v. Des Moines (Vietnam protest in schools) Texas v. Johnson (flag burning) New York Times v. United States (Pentagon Papers) Cox v. Louisiana (civil rights demonstrations) Communist Party v. Subversive Activities Control Board (freedom of association) Terry v. Ohio ("stop and frisk" by police) Gregg v. Georgia (capital punishment) Cooper v. Aaron (Little Rock school desegregation) Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (public accommodations) Palmer v. Thompson (swimming pool integration) Loving v. Virginia (interracial marriage) San Antonio v. Rodriguez (equal funding for public schools) Bowers v. Hardwick (homosexual rights) Baker v. Carr ("one person, one vote") United States v. Nixon (Watergate tapes) DeShaney v. Winnebago County (child abuse)

Author Notes

Peter Irons is a professor of political science and director of the Earl Warren Bill of Rights Project at the University of California, San Diego.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

The nature of the rule of law is a central concern of these three rather different works. Perhaps the most unusual is the pairing of law professor Amsterdam and cultural psychologist Bruner, both of New York University, in a study that grows out of the "lawyering theory" seminar they have team-taught for 10 years. Their goal is to "make the familiar strange again," specifically, to examine the routine legal processes of categorization, storytelling, and persuasion, as well as the culture within which these processes take place. After discussing each subject (categories, narrative, rhetorics, and the dialectic of culture), they explore its operation in one or two significant Supreme Court decisions, "unearth[ing] concealed presuppositions, categorical pitfalls, narrative predilections, rhetorical constructions, cultural biases." Such interpretive dilemmas, they suggest, are inevitable, but may be less troublesome to the extent that the effects of categories, narrative, rhetorics, and culture are acknowledged, rather than ignored. Princeton University politics and international affairs professor Bass covered the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for The Economist; he has also written for leading U.S. publications. In Stay the Hand of Vengeance, he considers the history of war crimes tribunals from the Napoleonic Wars to Kosovo, placing these efforts in the context of the debate between realists and idealists in international relations, and urging that war crimes tribunals are more than simply "victors' justice." Bass notes that liberal states are most likely to call for legalistic due process for war criminals; his focus here is on the politics of war crimes tribunals, rather than the details of the international law developed to govern such bodies. Why do even liberal states demand war crimes tribunals in some situations and not in others? What political factors explain why some war criminals are vigorously pursued and prosecuted, while others are largely ignored? These are the kinds of questions Bass' history seeks to answer. This fourth entry in the multimedia May It Please the Court series takes on issues of children and schools adjudicated by the U.S. Supreme Court. (Previous entries covered key post-1955 decisions [1993], abortion [1995], and the First Amendment [1997].) Irons--a University of California, San Diego political science professor and director of the Earl Warren Bill of Rights Project, which produces the series--narrates the tapes of oral arguments and questioning and edits written material: transcriptions of the arguments and excerpts from the Court's decisions and key dissents. Subjects here include school prayer, religious clubs, mandatory maternity leave for teachers, busing, censorship of student newspapers and in school libraries, evolution vs. creationism, "vulgar" speech, and student rights issues (corporal punishment, due process hearings, antiwar protest, property searches and drug testing, and "illegal alien" students). Students as well as older library patrons concerned about these issues will find this material fascinating and enlightening. --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

In 1993, political science professor Irons (UC San Diego) launched May It Please the Court, a series of sets of audiocassettes and transcripts of seminal Supreme Court sessions (the Court started taping its sessions in 1955 but until the first volume of May It Please the Court had restricted access to the tapes). This fourth installment features oral arguments in 16 cases implicating the constitutional rights of students and teachers in middle and high schools. The cases range widely from topics like busing and school prayer to drug testing, newspaper censorship and corporal punishment. Some of these cases set important legal precedents, such as Goss v. Lopez, which determined the due process rights of students facing suspension. Other cases present tricky factual issues that leave the law uncertain, such as New Jersey v. T.L.O., which addressed how far a principal may go in searching a student's purse. But students and general readers will have no trouble following even the knottiest arguments, thanks to Irons's plainspoken narration, crisp editing and occasional forthright asides. Both tapes and text include excerpts from oral arguments made before the Court, questions by the justices and majority and dissenting opinions. Readers and listeners will be enlightened, and entertained as well, as sparks fly between passionate, sometimes tongue-tied lawyers and the testy justices grilling them from the bench. (Two justices stand outÄThurgood Marshall, for his pointed and witty exchanges, and Antonin Scalia, who interrupts both lawyers and fellow justices with caustic rhetoric). Irons occasionally fails to identify which justice is speaking, attributing his or her question merely to the "Court," but this one flaw does not detract significantly from a valuable, even noble project. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In the last 40 years, students' rights have been a major source of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, including issues of prayer in the public schools, busing across district lines to achieve racial balance, and mandatory drug testing for student athletes. In this fourth installment in the "May It Please the Court" series, political scientist Irons (director, Earl Warren Bill of Rights Project, Univ. of California, San Diego) has edited and narrated a combination of live recordings and transcripts of 16 U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments. The book-and-tape package (there are four 90-minute cassettes) concern the constitutional rights of students and teachers, providing innovative material for high school and college classes. There is, moreover, an edited Supreme Court opinion from each of these landmark "school rights" cases. Irons's edited transcripts give equal weight to opposing lawyers' central arguments. The book and tapes give public and academic libraries an excellent way to inform readers about constitutional principles and decisions. Recommended for public and academic libraries.DSteven Puro, St. Louis Univ. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Irons (Univ. of California, San Diego) has edited four sets of texts and audio tapes in the "May It Please the Court Series." Each set contains selected Supreme Court cases in an area of constitutional law and follows a format of oral arguments before the Court with explanatory narratives and an edited version of the case. This set presents 16 decisions beginning in 1963 with Abingdon Township v. Schemp (Bible reading and Lord's prayer in public schools) and ending with Vernonia School District v. Acton (mandatory drug testing for students). Additional cases treat issues such as students' First Amendment rights, busing to attain racial balance, and mandatory maternity leave for teachers. This innovative teaching tool gives students the flavor of the public aspect of the Supreme Court's work and dramatizes some major public controversies that eventually resulted in litigation. However, for students who lack even a cursory introduction to the origins and development of judicial review, this text and tapes taken by themselves present a distorted view of the Supreme Court's work. Like all supplementary classroom materials, their successful use depends on the manner of presentation. Irons' creative work deserves a try, but only with students familiar with the basics of American jurisprudence. Recommended for upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and researchers. R. J. Steamer emeritus, University of Massachusetts at Boston

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
Bible reading and the lord's prayer in schools
School District of Abington Township v. Schempp (1963)p. 1
Transcriptp. 3
Opinionp. 10
Wearing black armbands to protest Vietnam war
Tinker v. Des Moines School District (1969)p. 21
Transcriptp. 23
Opinionp. 33
Mandatory maternity leave for pregnant teachers
Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur (1974)p. 43
Transcriptp. 45
Opinionp. 53
Busing across district lines for racial balance
Milliken, Governor of Michigan v. Bradley (1974)p. 61
Transcriptp. 63
Opinionp. 71
Due process hearings for suspended students
Goss, Superintendent of Schools v. Lopez (1975)p. 81
Transcriptp. 83
Opinionp. 91
"Cruel and unusual punishment" and paddling students
Ingraham v. Wright, School Principal (1977)p. 101
Transcriptp. 103
Opinionp. 112
Barring "illegal alien" children from schools
Plyler, Superintendent of Schools v. Doe (1982)p. 123
Transcriptp. 125
Opinionp. 133
Removing "objectionable" books from school library
Board of Education, Island Trees School District v. Pico (1982)p. 145
Transcriptp. 147
Opinionp. 157
Power of school officials to search student belongings
New Jersey v. T.L. O. (1985)p. 169
Transcriptp. 171
Opinionp. 180
Punishing "vulgar" speech at school assembly
Bethel School District v. Fraser (1986)p. 191
Transcriptp. 193
Opinionp. 202
"Equal time" for evolution and creationism in schools
Edwards, Governor of Louisiana v. Aguillard (1987)p. 211
Transcriptp. 213
Opinionp. 223
Censoring high school newspapers
Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988)p. 233
Transcriptp. 235
Opinionp. 245
Equal access for religious clubs in school facilities
Board of Education, Westside Schools v. Mergens (1990)p. 257
Transcriptp. 259
Opinionp. 268
Prayers at school commencement ceremony
Lee, School Principal v. Weisman (1992)p. 281
Transcriptp. 283
Opinionp. 293
Sign-language interpreter in religious school
Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District (1993)p. 307
Transcriptp. 309
Opinionp. 317
Mandatory drug testing for student athletes
Vernonia School District v. Acton (1995)p. 327
Transcriptp. 329
Opinionp. 338