Swisher, Carl Brent (1897–1968)

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Carl Brent Swisher taught constitutional history for many years at Johns Hopkins University. A pioneer in the field of judicial biography, Swisher published Stephen J. Field: Craftsman of the Law (1930), still highly regarded. His Roger B. Taney (1935), the leading biography, and his posthumously published The Taney Period, 1836–1864 (1974; Vol. 5, Holmes Devise History of the Supreme Court) describe Taney's accomplishments as Chief Justice as well as his failures of judgment and proslavery bias, thereby rescuing Taney from the limbo to which most historians had consigned him in the wake of dred scott v. sandford (1857). Swisher also published several general studies of constitutional law and the Supreme Court, including American Constitutional Development (1943; rev. ed. with e. m. sait, 1954) andThe Supreme Court in Modern Role (1958; rev. ed., 1965). In the most influential of these works, The Growth of Constitutional Power in the United States (1946; rev. ed., 1963), Swisher questioned the continuing usefulness of the doctrine of separation of powers, fearing that it prevented government from achieving the ends which society increasingly expected government to achieve; he also urged government supervision of large corporations to check their political and economic power.

Richard B. Bernstein