The Warren Court and American Politics

By Lucas A. Powe Jr. | Go to book overview

Chapter 15
Policing the Police

Gideon v. Wainwright, mandating that an indigent criminal defendant be provided a lawyer, was the Warren Court’s only popular criminal procedure decision. Gideon rested on the obvious and powerful insight that without a defendant’s having a lawyer at trial there can be no justice. Attorney General Robert Kennedy immediately marked the case’s significance, setting the story line for Anthony Lewis’s Gideon’s Trumpet. “If an obscure convict named Clarence Earl Gideon had not sat down in his prison cell with a pencil and paper to write a letter to the Supreme Court, the vast machinery of American law would have gone on functioning undisturbed. But Gideon did write that letter and the whole course of American legal history has been changed.”1

Warren’s biographer, Ed Cray, tells the story just as Lewis and Kennedy did. “Clarence Gideon’s journey to the Supreme Court of the United States was a piece of storybook Americana: the luckless drifter, in and out of prisons since he was fourteen, the least among men, could appeal to the highest, the most august court of the land. And once there, not only would he be heard, but he would triumph.”2 That summary, wonderfully capturing Gideon’s charm, would have been perfect it if added that Abe Fortas became his lawyer at the Court. “No tale so affirmed the American democracy. No story broadcast around the world so clearly proclaimed that not just the rich received justice in American courts.”3


Gideon’s Trumpet

Lewis quickly immortalized Gideon with Gideon’s Trumpet, and eventually Henry Fonda starred as Gideon in a television movie; as a result, the facts are well known. Somewhat less well-known are the facts that

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The Warren Court and American Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter 1 - The Supreme Court, 1935–1953 1
  • I Beginnings the 1953–1956 Jerms 19
  • Chapter 2 - Brown 27
  • Chapter 3 - Implementation 50
  • Chapter 4 - Domestic Security 75
  • Chapter 5 - Glimpses of the Future 104
  • II Stalemate the 1957–1961 Jerms 125
  • Chapter 6 - Domestic Security after Red Monday 135
  • Chapter 7 - Little Rock and Civil Rights 157
  • Chapter 8 - The Transition 179
  • III History's Warren Court the 1962–1968 Terms 207
  • Chapter 9 - To the Civil Rights Act 217
  • Chapter 10 - Revamping the Democratic Process 239
  • Chapter 11 - After the Civil Rights Act 272
  • Chapter 12 - Freedom of Expression 303
  • Chapter 13 - The End of Obscenity? 336
  • Chapter 14 - Church and State in a Pluralist Society 358
  • Chapter 15 - Policing the Police 379
  • Chapter 16 - Policing the Criminal Justice System 412
  • Chapter 17 - Wealth and Poverty 445
  • IV the Era Ends 463
  • Chapter 18 - The Last Year 467
  • Chapter 19 - What Was the Warren Court? 485
  • Chronology 503
  • Notes 511
  • Bibliography 533
  • Index of Cases 539
  • General Index 549
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