The Spirit of ’76 and Economic Inequality

9780700621736In a review of America’s Founding and the Struggle over Economic Inequality by Clement Fatovic, highlights the author’s examples from history, including a quote from Pennsylvania teacher James Cannon, “over-grown rich Men will be improper to be trusted.” as the authentic Spirit of ’76 animating the total removal of property qualifications for voting and office-holding in Pennsylvania’s new state constitution. The review goes on to point to how timely this book is at a time when the USA has a level of economic inequality that ranks among the highest in the world.

Crime Control vs. Expanding Police Power: The Supreme Court’s decision in Utah v. Strieff

9780700622573The  Supreme Court’s recently ended term only had a few search and seizure cases, but the decision in Utah v. Strieff provides evidence of the continuing power of the crime control narrative on the Court, and involves one of the central issues explored in The Fourth Amendment in Flux: The Roberts Court, Crime Control, and Digital Privacy, namely, the evolution or devolution of the exclusionary rule in a jurisprudence of crime control.  The case openly forgives police misconduct, by exaggerating the social costs of excluding evidence, and creating yet another rationale for permitting illegal police activity to go unchallenged.

In this case, Edward Strieff was subject to what the lower courts conceded was an illegal Terry stop, lacking reasonable suspicion. After the stop, the officer learned that Strieff had an outstanding warrant for his arrest.  Strieff was arrested and searched incident to that arrest, and incriminating evidence was found.  The question is whether that evidence is tainted by the illegality of the Terry stop.  Does the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine apply, or does the intervening act of discovering the existence of a warrant preclude the use of the exclusionary rule.

In 5-3 decision, Justice Thomas held that the existence of the warrant was sufficient to “break the causal chain between the unlawful stop and the discovery of drug-related evidence on Strieff’s person.”  Justice Sotomayor wrote a stinging dissent, exposing how the Court was diminishing Fourth Amendment rights.    Her words are worth quoting at length:

“This Court has given officers an array of instruments to probe and examine you. When we condone officers’ use of these devices without adequate cause, we give them reason to target pedestrians in an arbitrary manner. We also risk treating members of our communities as second-class citizens. Although many Americans have been stopped for speeding or jaywalking, few may realize how degrading a stop can be when the officer is looking for more.
The indignity of the stop is not limited to an officer telling you that you look like a criminal. … If the officer thinks you might be dangerous, he may then “frisk” you for weapons. This involves more than just a pat down. As onlookers pass by, the officer may “feel with sensitive fingers every portion of [your] body. A thorough search [may] be made of [your] arms and armpits, waistline and back, the groin and area about the testicles, and entire surface of the legs down to the feet.”
The officer’s control over you does not end with the stop. If the officer chooses, he may handcuff you and take you to jail for doing nothing more than speeding, jaywalking, or “driving [your] pickup truck . . . with [your] 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter . . . without [your] seatbelt fastened.” At the jail, he can fingerprint you, swab DNA from the inside of your mouth, and force you to “shower with a delousing agent” while you “lift [your] tongue, hold out [your] arms, turn around, and lift [your] genitals.” Even if you are innocent, you will now join the 65 million Americans with an arrest record and experience the “civil death” of discrimination by employers, landlords, and whoever else conducts a background check. And, of course, if you fail to pay bail or appear for court, a judge will issue a warrant to render you “arrestable on sight” in the future.”

While the Court in Strieff makes concessions for the need for police discretion to protect public safety, Justice Sotomayor really illustrates what is at stake for the future.  Allowing an illegal stop to stand just because of the happy accident of the existence of an outstanding warrant rewards police misconduct, rather than deterring it.  What this case does is demonstrate that the jurisprudence of crime control remains deeply embedded in the minds of many justices, and the majority of justices refuse to acknowledge, as Justice Sotomayor does, the threat that this approach presents for constitutional civil rights and liberties.   The Fourth Amendment is certainly still in flux, but the jurisprudence of crime control remains the dominant paradigm.

-Written by Craig Curtis and Michael Gizzi, authors of The Fourth Amendment in Flux

Trump Bashing from on High

9780700622719In a recent article in the Washington Post Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s comments on the consequences of a Trump presidency are discussed by legal scholars, including Louis J. Virelli III, author of the recently published Disqualifying the High Court: Supreme Court Recusal and the Constitution. Professor Virelli discusses what might prove to be grounds for recusal if a Trump administration takes office next year.

Will First Spouse Bill Clinton take the place of a Vice President?

9780700622023Will a Hillary Clinton administration reverse the forty year advance in influence of the vice presidency? A new article in History News Network by Saint Louis University Professor of Law Joel K. Goldstein, author of The White House Vice Presidency: The Path to Significance, Mondale to Biden, discusses the book’s case for the importance of the modern vice presidency and whether a former president as First Spouse might challenge its role in a new administration.

Kansas Wildflowers and Weeds Selected as a Kansas Notable Book

9780700620814Kansas Notable Books is a project of the Kansas Center for the Book, a program of the State Library and has selected Kansas Wildflowers and Weeds by Michael John Haddock, Craig C. Freeman, and Janét E. Bare as an outstanding book either written by Kansas or about a Kansas related topic.

Michael John Haddock is Assistant Dean, Research, Education, and Engagement Division, K-State Libraries, Kansas State University. Craig C. Freeman is Senior Curator, R. L. McGregor Herbarium, University of Kansas. Janét E. Bare is the author of the original Wildflowers and Weeds of Kansas (1979).

UPK Offers (Fiscal) Year End Sale Through June 30

The (fiscal) year draws to a close on June 30. Is there a better way to celebrate the end of a year than with new books? We think not. In that spirit, we are offering a special year end sale. Use promo code ENDF16 to receive a 25% discount and free shipping on all website orders placed through June 30, 2016.

Do you want to increase your understanding of past presidential elections as we prepare for a new election this November? Interested in landmark Supreme Court decisions? Are there some military history books that you’ve had your eye on? Or maybe you’d like to catch up on some of our regional or environmental history books. We have books available for all of these interests and more.

Wake the kids. Tell your neighbors.  There’s a sale going on that you won’t want to miss.

Minimum order: 1 book. Maximum order: as many books as you choose to put in your shopping cart.

Don’t forget to include the discount code ENDF16 to receive your 25% discount.

Kansas Trail Guide Selected as a Kansas Notable Book

9780700620661Kansas Notable Books is a project of the Kansas Center for the Book, a program of the State Library and has selected the Kansas Trail Guide: The Best Hiking, Biking, and Riding in the Sunflower State by Jonathan M. Conard and Kristin M. Conard as an outstanding book either written by Kansans or about a Kansas related topic.

Jonathan Conard is assistant professor at Sterling College, in Sterling, Kansas. Kristin Conard is a writer whose work has appeared in many publications including Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, and BBC Travel.

Judicial Recusal Becomes a Hot Button Issue in the Trump Campaign

9780700622719The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Williams v. Pennsylvania confirmed the close relationship between recusal and constitutional law. As I argue in my new book, Disqualifying the High Court: Supreme Court Recusal and the Constitution, recusal at the Highest Court must be treated exclusively as a matter of constitutional law in order to both properly protect litigants like Mr. Williams and to ensure that our most powerful courts are able to fully perform their public duties.  This has important consequences for several hot button issues, including the ongoing disputes over whether certain Supreme Court Justices are fit to preside over politically controversial cases and Donald Trump’s accusations that Judge Gonzalo Curiel is unfit to participate in the ongoing fraud case against Trump University.

Written by J. Louis Virelli III, author of Disqualifying the High Court: Supreme Court Recusal and the Constitution

A Court Even More in Flux after the Death of Justice Scalia

9780700622573Justice Scalia had a heart attack and died shortly after The Fourth Amendment in Flux went to press.  Any preliminary votes he cast in conference are null and the Court is left with just eight justices until a new nominee is confirmed.  His death left the Court with a large number of pending cases the decision of which are affected in a significant way by his absence, including two undecided Fourth Amendment cases.

We argued in our book that Justice Scalia played a major role in the debates over the application of the Fourth Amendment.  In the Afterword that we wrote for the book after it went to press and which is available in the e-book edition as well as on the press’s web site we discuss some of the issues that will continue to put pressure on the Court and the ramifications of the departure of Justice Scalia including the future of the third party doctrine using a cell phone to track an individual’s location and the use by law enforcement of commercially collected meta-data.

The Fourth Amendment truly is in flux, and as we argue in our book, the last five years have seen significant shifts on the Court.  The 2016 presidential election remains critical for determining the direction that the Court will take on these, and other issues.  Will the jurisprudence of crime control continue to be challenged, or will it remain the primary paradigm for Fourth Amendment cases?  Learn more in The Fourth Amendment in Flux. 

–Written by Michael C. Gizzi and R. Craig Curtis, authors of The Fourth Amendment in Flux: The Roberts Court, Crime Control, and Digital Privacy

Rethinking Stalin’s Purge of the Red Army, 1937-38

9780700621170On 11 June 1937, a Soviet military court sentenced a group of some of the most senior officers in the Red Army to execution. Accused of working for Nazi Germany and coordinating a so-called ‘military-fascist plot’, the group were charged with sabotage, espionage, and planning to overthrow the Stalinist regime. The sentences – carried out just hours later – marked the point when Stalin’s military purge burst into the open and sparked nothing short of international scandal. Iosif Stalin was decapitating his military at the very moment that Europe was bracing itself for total war. Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevskii, the Red Army’s most creative thinker and strategist, was the most prominent victim of the military purge in 1937, but the net was cast much wider. Over the next two years over 30,000 army leaders were discharged from the ranks; thousands were arrested and executions were widespread. The violence began to subside in late 1938 and reinstatements to the ranks became more common in 1939, but the military purge remained a highly destabilizing and damaging attack on the Red Army. It was a central moment in the broader Great Terror that gripped the Soviet Union in the mid-to-late 1930s. Moreover, the purge was a key moment in the years leading up the outbreak of the Second World War. Stalin’s attack on his army in 1937 made him seem unpredictable and unreliable; an alliance with the British and French governments against Nazi Germany was now increasingly unlikely.

There was of course no truth in the charges against the Tukhachevskii group: there was no ‘military-fascist plot’ or genuine conspiracy in the Red Army. Confessions were coerced from the arrested men, often using violence. However, why Stalin lashed out at his army at the same time that the Soviet Union was gearing up for war, as military spending was rising at break-neck pace, has long been without an adequate explanation The most common argument (dominant from the Cold War) points to Stalin’s desire for total power. In short, ambitious and popular officers like Tukhachevskii had to be killed for Stalin to rest easy about the security of his dictatorship. But this does not explain why the military purge spread so quickly beyond Tukhachevskii and the group of officers put on trial in June. Why were tens of thousands of army leaders subsequently drawn into a mass purge? If Stalin was primarily concerned about preserving his position as dictator, smashing the Red Army in such a dramatic (and ultimately uncontrollable) fashion was a very risky way of consolidating power, especially when world war was on the horizon. Launching the military purge was a big risk and one that put the security of the Soviet Union under threat. If anything, the purge put Stalin’s own position in danger.

A second – and related – explanation for the military purge points to Stalin’s paranoia: Stalin saw ‘enemies’ everywhere and the Red Army was no exception. In this way, the military purge was not a targeted removal of potential challengers to Stalin’s power, but instead a manifestation of the dictator’s worldview and his tendency to lash out at imaginary ‘enemies’. However, it is impossible to know if Stalin did genuinely suffer from paranoia, and even so, this is too much of a blanket explanation for Stalinist political violence. It leaves unanswered why the Stalinist regime deployed violence when it did; why this violence took on different forms (targeted arrests or collective punishment); it says nothing about the thousands of other perpetrators, collaborators and other unwilling participants working for the Stalinist regime. And even if we accept that Stalin was paranoid – or at the very least highly suspicious – we need to understand where his suspicions about the Red Army stemmed from specifically. How and why did Stalin come to believe that dangerous ‘enemies’ were at the heart of the Red Army establishment in 1937?

                 Mikhail Mikhail Tukhachevskii

The key to understanding the military purge is to look back to the longer history of civil-military relations from very formation of the Soviet state. Importantly, from the early days of the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Red Army was continually the subject of deep security anxieties and believed to be under a near-constant threat of subversion. The most serious perceived threats to the Red Army identified by the Bolsheviks before the military purge include:

  • Former imperial officers from the disbanded Tsarist army. Such officers enlisted in the Red Army during the Russian Civil War and 1920s and brought with them valuable expertise. They were, however, viewed as the enemy within.
  • Former White officers who had fought against the Bolsheviks during the Civil War similarly enlisted in the Red Army and were regarded with even more suspicion.
  • ‘Foreign agents’ were a constant security anxiety for the Bolsheviks throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Whether British, Polish, Japanese or German, the Bolsheviks saw their army as a prime target for hostile foreign governments.
  • Leon Trotsky’s opposition platform was quickly identified as a dangerous internal threat to Red Army stability in the mid-1920s and beyond.
  • Peasant soldiers formed the bulk of the Red Army, but their reliability was always in doubt. During the collectivization drive of the late 1920s and early 1930s, the loyalty of peasant soldiers seriously wavered as the regime dispossessed peasant families of their belongings and forced farmers into collective units. Stalin’s ‘Revolution from above’ threw the fragility of the Red Army into sharp relief.
  • Rumors of betrayal and conspiracy constantly surrounded the Soviet high command, inside and outside the Soviet Union throughout the entire interwar period. Tukhachevskii in particular was regularly portrayed as a potential ‘Soviet Bonaparte’ and challenger to Stalin. These rumors never dissipated.

In all, over the twenty-year period before the military purge of 1937, there was never a moment that the Bolsheviks believed their army was reliable or secure. When the Great Terror erupted in 1936, the growing wave of political violence and intense pressures placed on state and society brought long-standing security anxieties surrounding the Red Army to a head. The ‘military-fascist plot’ seemed entirely credible to the Stalinist regime in 1937. The military purge was the result of long-standing security anxieties about the Red Army that stretched back to 1917; when these became intertwined with the explosion of political violence during the Great Terror, the Soviet high command was left fatally exposed.

–Written by Peter Whitewood, author of The Red Army and the Great Terror