U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Truman's Court: A Study in Judicial Restraint

NCJ Number
F H Rudko
Date Published
177 pages
Focusing on the record of President Truman's four liberal appointees to the U.S. Supreme Court, this text examines the judicial philosophy underlying important decisions involving the rights of individuals and shows how judicial issues -- especially the balance between restraint and activism -- have determined the decisionmaking process.
The make-up of the Court and the history of the restraint-activism dichotomy in Court precedent are reviewed. Separate chapters examine the career background, circumstances of appointment, and the work on the high court of each of the four justices. The most important decisions written by Burton, Minton, Clark, and Vinson are analyzed in terms of the restraint-activism continuum. The cases presented concerned issues of particular significance in the post-War era, including rights aspects of judicial procedures, loyalty oaths and national security, and the rights of aliens. Drawing on case memoranda and personal correspondence, as well as the decisions themselves, the analyses reveal the complex interplay that characterizes judicial decisionmaking. On the basis of the analysis, it is concluded that these justices favored a restrained, limited view of their judicial function. It is suggested that the exercise of judicial restraint by Truman's appointees was an expression of their adherence to the limited role of the judiciary in the scheme Government. They disapproved of capricious judicious meddling with the lawmaking perogatives of both State and National legislative branches. Chapter notes, index, and approximately 220 references and 160 case citations. (Publisher summary modified)