Eisenhower, who also appointed William Brennan, famously described the appointment of Warren as his most regrettable decision, and the two principals’ individuality, as well as their relationship to one another and to their associate justices, is skillfully and intelligently drawn. This is a cogently written book, especially given the complexity of many of the issues. Simon does great justice to an important segment of a critical period in American history.
What is perhaps most striking is that, with the exception of a few veiled comments in news conferences and oblique statements in their memoirs, Eisenhower and Warren kept their frustrations with each other private ... His efforts to probe Eisenhower and Warren’s relationship reveal that their differences were often more of approach than ends and represented a debate over immediate vs. incremental change ... His efforts to probe Eisenhower and Warren’s relationship reveal that their differences were often more of approach than ends and represented a debate over immediate vs. incremental change ... Simon’s veneration of Warren also creates some noticeable blind spots ... Simon’s book offers a glimmer of hope that the court can and will once again take a stand. For, as Warren’s example makes clear, such a position is not only constitutional but also morally and ethically right, and will allow the justices to join Warren on the right side of history.
Mr. Simon presents a vivid account of how Warren deferred an immediate showdown, schmoozing the Texan Tom Clark, parrying the judicial-restraint theories of former professor Felix Frankfurter, facing down the doubts of the eloquent Robert Jackson (who was perhaps echoing the arguments of his law clerk William Rehnquist) ... The fact is that Eisenhower and Warren were both acting under political constraints—something that Mr. Simon, in his gripping account, describes generously in Warren’s case but somewhat more grudgingly in Eisenhower’s.
James F. Simon ... chronicles this tense and at times surprising dynamic in Eisenhower vs. Warren: The Battle for Civil Rights and Liberties, the most thorough and balanced assessment of the two men’s fraught relationship yet written.* Most work on this subject is frustratingly scattered, appearing only in chapters in the biographies of either man ... Simon is the ideal scholar to undertake this study, having made a career of examining conflicts between the presidency and the Supreme Court. As we anticipate an existential clash between Donald Trump and the justices—if Trump attempts to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, for instance, or defies an obstruction-of-justice finding—Simon’s book is highly topical. It also has something to teach us about incremental versus rapid change. The fundamental disagreement it chronicles concerns the pace of social progress.
Simon is at his best when describing how these once friendly men became alienated, as Eisenhower remained moored to his middle-of-the road politics, while Warren became leader of the Court’s liberal faction, exasperated by Eisenhower’s failure to move proactively on school desegregation ... This compelling account of two giants of their time will find a wide audience among historians and informed general readers. See David Goldfield’s The Gifted Generation for a view of Eisenhower as a stronger civil rights president.
...[an] enjoyably readable, thoroughly researched ninth book ... In Eisenhower vs. Warren, Simon answers three related questions: Why didn’t Eisenhower endorse the ruling in Brown? Could Eisenhower have made the South more receptive to desegregation of public schools if he had endorsed Brown? Why did Eisenhower become embittered about his chief justice, one of the court’s most influential? ... Simon builds an absorbing book about a saga in American law and politics that remains centrally important.
Legal historian James Simon adds to his shelf of first-rate books with his latest, Eisenhower vs Warren: The Battle for Civil Rights and Liberties, a detailed, fine-grained study of the tense relationship between President Eisenhower and his most famous appointee, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren ... In most of Simon's earlier works studying the relationship between the Executive and the Judiciary, the Presidents in question tend to come across as the lesser creatures – but not in this case. Mixed signals on Brown vs the Board of Education notwithstanding, this is Ike's book from first to last.
Mr Simon is an engaging storyteller, even if he offers few surprising insights into the relationship between the two men. Mostly he presents their stories in parallel; only occasionally do they interact. In this telling Eisenhower tried to duck the moral force of the Brown decision and was said to bitterly regret his appointment of Warren. (In private, Warren recalled, Eisenhower said he sympathised with southerners who did not want their 'sweet little girls' to share classrooms with 'big overgrown Negroes'.) Only after a few weeks’ delay did the president act over the crisis in Little Rock in 1957, sending troops to help nine black children go to school.
Eisenhower vs. Warren...is a well-paced, balanced account of two remarkable men and their conflict over public school integration and treatment of 'subversives' during the 1950s and 1960s. Simon, however, leaves a major historical question unaddressed ... The unaddressed historical question in Simon’s book is the counterfactual: would our nation have been better off if both the Court and President Eisenhower had been more willing to confront racism when Brown was decided? ... Simon provides useful insights both into the competing views of the two most consequential leaders during the 1950s who were responsible for our nation’s initial desegregation practices and into the complexity of the process of beginning to unravel the 'American Dilemma,' as Gunnar Myrdal, the Swedish Nobel Laureate economist, called our race relations. But he doesn’t directly address the ultimate question of whether there would have been a better way to proceed.
Simon frames these conflicts within a robust, detailed narrative, clearly presenting the political and cultural milieu within which these two principled pragmatists worked. The author’s presentation of discussions among the court justices about the legal issues at stake is particularly illuminating. A well-written, salutary illustration of the principle that honorable men can disagree about the pace and the means of effecting social change.
Simon is in top form, creating sympathetic portraits of both protagonists, capturing the historical context of Eisenhower’s presidency, thoroughly explaining the dynamics of the Warren Court, and, when necessary, looking past Eisenhower’s and Warren’s professed positions to expose their underlying motives and goals. This balanced account of the bitter relationship between Eisenhower and Warren presents a new lens through which to view the start of the civil rights movement.