Lawyers, Landmarks & Constitutional Dialogue: The Due Process Revolution from Mapp to Furman
This thesis explores the ability of legal advocates to influence the decisions of the United States Supreme Court through a close study of four landmark decisions from 1961-1972: Mapp v. Ohio (1961), Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), Miranda v. Arizona (1966), and Furman v. Georgia (1972). It utilises a framework based broadly around the concept of constitutional dialogue to argue that existing scholarship does not pay due attention to the role of attorneys in shaping constitutional interpretation. Set in the context of the 1960s ‘Due Process Revolution’ and the battle over incorporation, ‘Lawyers, Landmarks and Constitutional Dialogue’ studies in depth how these four cases were argued, including counsel for the various parties, notable amicus curiae participation by groups like the American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU] and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund [LDF], drawing on a range of sources including the briefs and oral arguments, archival material and participant interviews. From the single paragraph in the ACLU’s Mapp brief which gave the Court a basis for extending the Fourth Amendment’s protection to the states, to the decade or more of sustained advocacy by the LDF that resulted in the (temporary) abolition of the death penalty in Furman, lawyers could and did influence these landmark Supreme Court decisions in very real ways.