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Justice deferred - race and the Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court is usually seen as protector of our liberties: it ended segregation, was a guarantor of fair trials, and safeguarded free speech and the vote. But this narrative derives mostly from a short period, from the 1930s to the early 1970s. Before then, the Court spent a century largely ignoring or suppressing basic rights, while the fifty years since 1970 have witnessed a mostly accelerating retreat from racial justice.

In their book, Justice Deferred - Race and the Supreme Court (2021, Belknap Press), historian Orville Vernon Burton and civil rights lawyer Armand Derfner shine a powerful light on the Court’s race record—a legacy at times uplifting, but more often distressing and sometimes disgraceful. Justice Deferred is the first book that comprehensively charts the Court’s race jurisprudence.

In this episode of Walter Edgar’s Journal, Burton and Derfner tell us many of the sometimes-surprising stories behind the Supreme Court’s rulings.

- Originally published 12/03/21 -

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.