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ECU professor writes book about Burger court

(Mar. 9, 2001)   —   Dr. Tinsley E. Yarbrough, an East Carolina University political scientist and legal scholar, has a new book in print about the decisions and personalities of the Supreme Court from 1969 to 1986 under Chief Justice Warren E. Burger.
"The Burger Court: Justices, Rulings and Legacy" was published recently by ABC-CLIO as the first in a series of general reference volumes about the Supreme Court.
"Depending on your viewpoint, the Court over which Burger presided either turned the clock back on the enlightened progressive legal reforms of the Warren Court or put an end to the out-of-control leftist judicial activism of the 1960s," according to publisher's comments about volume.
Chapters include profiles about each of the 13 justices who comprised the Berger Court. The 346-page volume also provides insights on most of the major decisions of the court.
Yarbrough said that President Richard Nixon had hoped to produce a constitutional counterrevolution in the Supreme Count through his appointment of Burger and three other associate justices Harry Blackmun, Lewis Powell Jr. and William Rehnquist.
"In some respects Nixon could take pride in his handiwork," Yarbrough said, citing the criminal justice field in which the court reduced the effect of the Fourth Amendment and permitted police to use more of their own discretion in gathering evidence about suspects.
It also expanded the government's authority over the distribution or exhibition of obscenity and narrowly upheld the right to possess obscene materials in the privacy of the home.
Some other case ruling by the Court delivered surprises. Among them were rulings about the separation of powers, federal-state relations, equal protection, free speech and civil liberties that showed the Court as having a mind of its own. One surprise in particular was the Burger Court's guarantee in Roe vs. Wade of a woman's right to an abortion.
ABC-CLIO, the book's publisher, said it is producing the series of volumes about the Supreme Court to be of value to the academic and legal communities as well as for a general reader who does not possess an extensive background on the Court or American Constitutional Law.
Yarbrough is an ECU Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. He's other books include "The Rehnquist Court and the Constitution," "John Marshall Harlan, Great Dissenter of the Warren Court," "Mr. Justice Black and His Critics," "A Passion for Justice: J. Waties Waring and Civil Rights," "Judicial Enigma: The First Justice Harlan," and "Judge Frank Johnson and Human Rights in Alabama."