Civil Rights and the Reagan Court: Challenging the Second Reconstruction

Civil Rights and the Reagan Court: Challenging the Second Reconstruction

It took all of Ronald Reagan’s eight years. But it now appears that he achieved one of his major goals: hastening an end to the Second Reconstruction in America. Reagan not only succeeded in reducing the protection of specific laws; he transformed the federal judiciary, once the foremost champion of individual rights, into a threat to those laws.

The key to this transformation was the Reagan appointments to the Supreme Court. Along with Nixon appointee William H. Rehnquist, whom Reagan elevated to chief justice, and conservative Kennedy appointee Byron White, the Reagan justices—Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, and Anthony Kennedy—have consistently voted together to strike at civil rights laws adopted for minorities, women, and the disabled.

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Wurgraft | University of California Press Lima