Simon, James F. 1938-
Simon, James F. 1938-
Born November 26, 1938, in Fort Worth, TX; son of Richard (an attorney) and Natalie (a homemaker) Simon; married Laya Marcia (a social worker), March 30, 1963; children: David, Lauren, Sara. Education: Yale University, B.A., 1961, LL.B., 1964; attended Harvard University, 1974-75.
Home—West Nyack, NY. Office—New York Law School, 57 Worth St., New York, NY 10013. Agent—Esther Newberg, International Creative Management, 40 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10018. E-mail—[email protected]
New York Law School, New York, NY, assistant professor, 1975-77, associate professor, 1977-78, professor of law, 1978—, dean pro tempore, 1983-84, dean, 1984—. Visiting lecturer, Yale University, 1974-75; visiting fellow, University of Warwick, 1982; lecturer, University of California, Los Angeles, 1973, University of Pennsylvania, 1981, Franklin and Marshall College, 1982 and 1986, and University of Latvia, 1990.
U.S. Supreme Court, New York, and Texas bar associations.
Ford Foundation fellow in India, 1964-65; American Bar Association, Silver Gavel Award, 1974, for In His Own Image: The Supreme Court in Richard Nixon's America; Scribes Book Award, American Society of Writers on Legal Subjects, 1981, for Independent Journey: The Life of William O. Douglas; Certificate of Merit, 1990, for The Antagonists: Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter, and Civil Liberties in Modern America; New York Times Notable Book, 1995, for The Center Holds: The Power Struggle inside the Rehnquist Court, and 2002, for What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States.
In His Own Image: The Supreme Court in Richard Nixon's America, McKay (New York, NY), 1973.
The Judge, McKay (New York, NY), 1976.
Independent Journey: The Life of William O. Douglas, Harper (New York, NY), 1980.
The Center Holds: The Power Struggle inside the Rehnquist Court, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.
Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney: Slavery, Secession, and the President's War Powers, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals. Contributing editor and correspondent, Time, 1969-74.
For twenty-two years (1969-91), Republican presidents filled every Supreme Court vacancy. Particularly during the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, conservative justices were the norm in Supreme Court selections. "More than any other time since the era of Franklin Roosevelt's appointments in the 1930s," wrote a contributor to Trial, "ideology was openly used as a criterion in selection." When William Rehnquist became chief justice in 1986, pundits predicted a "conservative revolution" in Court decisions. But did such a shift actually take place? Law professor James F. Simon addresses that question in The Center Holds: The Power Struggle inside the Rehnquist Court. This 1995 book argues that no revolution took place, and that, as Erwin Chemerinsky put it in the Trial article, "ultimately moderate positions have prevailed in most areas of constitutional law."
The author concentrates on four issues—race, abortion, crime, and punishment—and focuses on key decisions regarding each topic. Among his case histories is the famous Roe v. Wade decision on abortion rights. "Simon is correct that the center held in the sense that [Roe v.Wade] was not overruled," noted Chemerinsky. "However, the Court has approved many restrictions on a woman's right to have an abortion." The reviewer cited "a great deal to admire about Simon's beautifully written book," but found the author's overall conclusions "questionable. In the last decade, there has been a dramatic change in almost every area of constitutional law, and the movement has been in a very conservative direction." A Publishers Weekly contributor found "valuable" the descriptions of memos and drafts "in which the justices argued and struggled to find majorities." Booklist contributor Mary Carroll concluded that The Center Holds "is a fascinating look at who the Supreme Court justices are, how they made vital decisions, and why, ultimately, the Rehnquist Revolution failed."
In What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States, Simon recounts a two-hundred-year-old constitutional law argument, examining the conflict between state-rights advocate Jefferson and the federalist leanings of John Marshall. The debate was more than just academic; the subject became personal for the two statesmen. Simon "deftly explains how Jefferson and Marshall maintained a façade of civility in their public pronouncements while unleashing blistering mutual vituperation privately," reported a Publishers Weekly writer. By bringing the personalities behind the historical events alive, said Gilbert Taylor of Booklist, Simon "proves that writing about constitutional law needn't be the dry preserve of academics."
Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney: Slavery, Secession, and the President's War Powers addresses the differences in interpretation of the Constitution that led Chief Justice Taney to fight Abraham Lincoln on a number of matters of law leading up to and continuing throughout the Civil War. Taney was known as a partisan justice prior to Lincoln's presidency, intelligent and religious and lenient when it came to determining presidential powers when leeway was necessary for Andrew Jackson. However, Taney also took a very narrow view on certain issues, primarily due to his southern heritage and old-fashioned ideas regarding the differences between slaves and citizens. He ruled against the rights of blacks in the Dred Scott trial, and when Lincoln began moving against slavery and toward increased rights for freed slaves, he struggled to block Lincoln's attempts to pass new legislature and to conduct his war. Simon's book recaps the historical struggle between these two strong-minded individuals, and attempts to explain Taney's motivations. A Kirkus Reviews contributor remarked that "though the pairing of Lincoln and Taney seems at first unpromising, this story is as timely as it is well-written." In a review for the Weekly Standard, Timothy S. Huebner commented that "as pure, old-fashioned historical narrative, the story of these two titans of the Civil War era is hard to beat." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found the work to be a "surprisingly taut and gripping book."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Lawyer, January, 2002, review of What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States, p. 64.
Booklist, August, 1995, Mary Carroll, review of The Center Holds: The Power Struggle inside the Rehnquist Court, p. 1916; February 15, 2002, Gilbert Taylor, review of What Kind of Nation, p. 976.
Harvard Law Review, June, 1996, review of The Center Holds, p. 2130.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 1995, review of The Center Holds, p. 697; December 15, 2001, review of What Kind of Nation, p. 1746; August 15, 2006, review of Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney: Slavery, Secession, and the President's War Powers, p. 830.
Library Journal, June 15, 1995, review of The Center Holds, p. 83.
Nation, September 11, 1995, review of The Center Holds, p. 242.
New Yorker, August 14, 1995, review of The Center Holds, p. 81.
New York Times, September 1, 1995, review of The Center Holds, p. C26.
New York Times Book Review, August 20, 1995, review of The Center Holds, p. 10.
Publishers Weekly, May 29, 1995, review of The Center Holds, p. 71; January 7, 2002, review of What Kind of Nation, p. 53; September 4, 2006, review of Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney, p. 51.
Trial, December, 1995, Erwin Chemerinsky, review of The Center Holds, p. 53.
Wall Street Journal, August 16, 1995, review of The Center Holds, p. A8.
Washington Post Book World, September 17, 1995, review of The Center Holds, p. 6.
Weekly Standard, April 9, 2007, Timothy S. Huebner, review of Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney.