Johnson, John W. 1946–

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Johnson, John W. 1946–

(John William Johnson)

PERSONAL:

Born April 9, 1946, in Minneapolis, MN; married. Education: St. Olaf College, B.A., 1968; University of Minnesota, M.A., 1970, Ph.D., 1974.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Department of History, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0701. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

University of Minnesota, teaching assistant, 1970-73; Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, began as instructor, became assistant professor, 1973-76; Clemson University, Clemson, SC, began as assistant professor, became professor, 1976-88; University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, professor of history and head of department, 1988—. Guest faculty member, University of Wales, 1988, University of Alaska, 1998.

MEMBER:

Organization of American Historians, Society for History in the Federal Government, American Studies Association, American Society for Legal History, Golden Key (honorary member), Phi Alpha Theta, Phi Beta Kappa.

AWARDS, HONORS:

National Endowment for the Humanities summer fellowship, 1975, and summer stipend, 1981; South Carolina Committee for the Humanities summer fellowship, 1983; Outstanding Book Award, American Library Association/Choice, 1993; Thomas Jefferson Awards, Society for History in the Federal Government, 1994, 2002; Benjamin F. Shambaugh Award, State Historical Society of Iowa, 1997; Outstanding Faculty Research Award and Donald N. McKay Faculty Research Award, both 2001, both from University of Northern Iowa.

WRITINGS:

American Legal Culture, 1908-1940, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1981.

Insuring against Disaster: The Nuclear Industry on Trial, Mercer University Press (Macon, GA), 1986.

The Dimensions of Non-Legal Evidence in the American Judicial Process: The Supreme Court's Use of Extra-Legal Materials in the Twentieth Century, Garland (New York, NY), 1990.

(Editor) Historic U.S. Court Cases, 1690-1990: An Encyclopedia, two volumes, Garland (New York, NY), 1992, 2nd edition published as Historic U.S. Court Cases: An Encyclopedia, Routledge (New York, NY), 2001.

The Struggle for Student Rights: Tinker v. Des Moines and the 1960s, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 1997.

Griswold v. Connecticut: Birth Control and the Constitutional Right of Privacy, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 2005.

Contributor to Constitutionalism and American Culture: Writing the New Constitutional History, edited by Sandra Van Burkleo and others, University Press of Kansas. Contributor to periodicals, including Historian, Journal of Policy History, and Journal of Supreme Court History.

SIDELIGHTS:

Historian John W. Johnson specializes in the history of U.S. Constitutional law and has written books and articles about important court cases and trends in the U.S. Supreme Court, among other related topics. Among his early publications are American Legal Culture, 1908-1940, Insuring against Disaster: The Nuclear Industry on Trial, and The Dimensions of Non-Legal Evidence in the American Judicial Process: The Supreme Court's Use of Extra-Legal Materials in the Twentieth Century. In 1992, Johnson published the comprehensive, two-volume Historic U.S. CourtCases, 1690-1990: An Encyclopedia, which was updated in 2001 as Historic U.S. Court Cases: An Encyclopedia.

Historic U.S. Court Cases, 1690-1990 contains over two hundred essays about important issues that were addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court, including decisions that affected laws concerning sexual identity, race, people with disabilities, other civil liberties, governmental organization and powers, economics, and crime. "Essays generally focus on one or two U.S. Supreme Court cases, although influential cases decided by lower federal courts, the colonial courts, and state courts are also covered," a Booklist contributor further explained. About one-fifth of the content from the first edition was updated and revised for the second. Library Journal critic Steve Puro labeled the encyclopedia as "useful for students and nonspecialists" alike, while the Booklist contributor similarly concluded: "Students and researchers in political science and history, as well as law, will find the encyclopedia useful."

While the abortion rights case of Roe v. Wade is familiar to most Americans, the earlier case of Griswold v. Connecticut is perhaps just as important for laying much of the groundwork that would later influence the Roe v. Wade case. Critics, therefore, found Johnson's Griswold v. Connecticut: Birth Control and the Constitutional Right of Privacy to be an important work regarding this debate on personal liberties. The 1965 U.S. Supreme Court case concerned a Connecticut law that made it a crime for physicians to prescribe birth control; it was also illegal for women to use birth control and for anyone to help a woman use birth control. The only U.S. state to prohibit female birth control, Connecticut nevertheless permitted the sale of condoms and also allowed abortions in instances where a mother's life was threatened. Johnson takes an objective approach in his book, refraining from discussing social history and sticking to legal concepts, case history, and information about the attorneys, judges, clerks, and litigants involved in the case.

Basing their opinions on the Bill of Rights and Fourteenth Amendment, the justices of the majority opinion declared that personal privacy was implied in the Constitution, though never directly stated, and therefore the Connecticut law was unconstitutional. Of this decision, Johnson writes: "The majority opinion in GRISWOLD … remains one of the most idiosyncratic opinions in the two centuries of Supreme Court history. For a decision announcing a major constitutional shift, it is creative but maddeningly cryptic." Nevertheless, Griswold would reverberate over the next decades, influencing not only Roe v. Wade, but also other cases involving such issues as gay marriage, sodomy laws in Texas, and protection of privacy. Johnson also explains that the Griswold decision did not lead to overpermissiveness, as some legal scholars had feared. Granting citizens a greater amount of privacy does not mean that the Constitution protects crimes such as narcotics dealing, prostitution, polygamy, and pedophilia. In a review posted on the University of Maryland College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Web site, John R. Vile felt that Johnson could have been clearer on this issue; for example, explaining why sodomy could be a sexual act protected by the Constitution because of a right to privacy, but prostitution was not protected. Nevertheless, Vile concluded that "Johnson deserves credit for writing a book that identifies some fascinating questions, even if he does not answer them all."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Historical Review, February 1, 1983, review of American Legal Culture, 1908-1940, p. 203; April 1, 1999, Samuel Walker, review of The Struggle for Student Rights: Tinker v. Des Moines and the 1960s, p. 603.

American Journal of Legal History, July 1, 1983, Carl A. Pierce, review of American Legal Culture, 1908-1940, p. 310; July 1, 1998, Patricia N. Action, review of The Struggle for Student Rights, p. 341; October 1, 1998, Patricia N. Acton, review of The Struggle for Student Rights, p. 411; July 1, 2005, Jennifer L. Ball, review of Griswold v. Connecticut: Birth Control and the Constitutional Right of Privacy, p. 308.

American Libraries, May 1, 1993, review of Historic U.S. Court Cases, 1690-1990: An Encyclopedia, p. 386.

Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, March 1, 1982, James R. Silkenat, review of American Legal Culture, 1908-1940, p. 177.

Association Management, September 1, 1986, "A Knack for Politics and Internationalism; ASAE's New Chairman, John W. Johnson, CAE, Believes the Future Belongs to Those Who Think beyond Today's Objectives and Geographic Boundaries," p. 44; September 1, 1987, "ASAE Membership Goal 16,500 for FY 88; Johnson Optimistic about Women's Future in Profession," p. 3.

Booklist, June 1, 1992, Sandy Whiteley, review of Historic U.S. Court Cases, 1690-1990, p. 1776; February 1, 2002, review of Historic U.S. Court Cases, 2nd edition, p. 965.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, September 1, 1992, F. Oscadal, review of Historic U.S. Court Cases, 1690-1990, p. 82; April 1, 1998, review of The Struggle for Student Rights, p. 1453; February 1, 2002, review of Historic U.S. Court Cases, 2nd edition, p. 1032; October 1, 2005, M.W. Bowers, review of Griswold v. Connecticut, p. 372.

Historian, June 22, 2006, Richard F. Hamm, review of Griswold v. Connecticut, p. 348.

History: Review of New Books, September 22, 2005, James C. Duram, review of Griswold v. Connecticut, p. 11.

Isis, March 1, 1987, Philip L. Cantelon, review of Insuring against Disaster: The Nuclear Industry on Trial, p. 98.

Journal of American History, March 1, 1982, review of American Legal Culture, 1908-1940, p. 964; March 1, 1987, Philip V. Scarpino, review of Insuring against Disaster, p. 1079; December 1, 1998, Mark A. Graber, review of The Struggle for Student Rights, p. 1163.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, June 22, 2006, Lawrence Meir Friedman, review of Griswold v. Connecticut, p. 161.

Journal of Law and Education, April 1, 1999, Steven W. Boggs, review of The Struggle for Student Rights, p. 301.

Jurimetrics Journal of Law, Science and Technology, March 22, 1987, Joel Yellin, review of Insuring against Disaster, p. 317.

Law and Politics Book Review, March 1, 2005, John R. Vile, review of Griswold v. Connecticut, p. 246.

Library Journal, June 15, 1981, review of American Legal Culture, 1908-1940, p. 1318; October 1, 1986, Steven Puro, review of Insuring against Disaster, p. 100; June 15, 1992, Philip Y. Blue, review of Historic U.S. Court Cases, 1690-1990, p. 70; December 1, 2001, Steven Puro, review of Historic U.S. Court Cases, 2nd edition, p. 108.

Minnesota Law Review, January 1, 1982, Charles J. McClain, review of American Legal Culture, 1908-1940, p. 376.

Reference & Research Book News, June 1, 1992, review of Historic U.S. Court Cases, 1690-1990, p. 25; May 1, 1998, review of The Struggle for Student Rights, p. 123; November 1, 2001, review of Historic U.S. Court Cases, 2nd edition, p. 170. Technology and Culture, January 1, 1988, Richard E. Sclove, review of Insuring against Disaster, p. 186.

ONLINE

University of Maryland College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Web site,http://www.bsos.umd.edu/ (March 1, 2005), John R. Vile, review of Griswold v. Connecticut.

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