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Equal Protection Books

Garrett Epps, Democracy Reborn: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Fight for Equal Rights in Post-Civil War America (2006)

This is a first-rate book about the origins of the Fourteenth Amendment. It is sophisticated in its treatment of the background issues and the congressional debates, but it is also accessible to a broad audience. For those interested in placing this critical amendment within its historical context, this book is the place to start.

Lydia Chavez, The Color Bind: The Campaign to End Affirmative Action (1998)

This is an interesting account of California's battle over affirmative action. The book focuses far more on the political than the legal issues and, in places, Chavez chooses to maintain the pace of her narrative rather than explore questions in greater analytical detail. But, overall, this is a highly readable and provocative look at a continuing controversy.

Raoul Berger, Government by Judiciary: The Transformation of the Fourteenth Amendment (1997)

Harvard legal scholar Raoul Berger is among those critical of the courts' expansive interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. In this densely argued account, he contends that the original purposes of the amendment's framers have been usurped by judges anxious to find a constitutional basis for social and legal reform. This book is not for the casual reader, but if you are interested in this take on the Fourteenth Amendment, this is an authoritative account.

Melba Pattillo Beals, Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High (1995)

This memoir by one of the Little Rock Nine provides an interesting look at the impact of a historical court decision on the students left to fight the next battle in the campaign to integrate America's schools. The political and legal issues are given scant attention, but students, in particular, might find this book's account of the day-to-day challenges of a black student at Central High School compelling.

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