Vanderbilt Lawyer - Volume 37, Number 1

The Supreme Guide

The Handy Supreme Court Answer Book by David Hudson, '94, is packed with substantive information and interesting trivia.

by Grace Renshaw
Handy Supreme Court Answer Book

Which Supreme Court justice was in a duel? Which Supreme Court decision is arguably the most controversial? Which justices signed the Declaration of Independence? Who was the first law school graduate to serve on the Court? Did the Court always have nine justices? Which Supreme Court justice was once known as "Whizzer"? The answers to these and countless other Supreme Court trivia questions - along with lots of substantive information about the Supreme Court and its current and former justices - can be found in David L. Hudson Jr.'s Handy Supreme Court Answer Book.

Hudson, who is a First Amendment Scholar at the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, wrote this guide for a lay audience. However, lawyers as well as history buffs will enjoy Hudson's comprehensive coverage of the origins of the court, its history and the justices who have served in the Court since its founding in 1789, including the Court's 17 chief justices. Hudson also offers insights into the social, cultural and political atmosphere in which the Supreme Court has operated during its 220-year history. "Like all public institutions, the Court has sometimes performed miserably, as it did when it sanctioned slavery in 1857 with the Dred Scott decision," Hudson says. "But the Court has also led the way to a more just society, as it did in 1954 with Brown v. Board of Education, when it ruled unanimously that segregated public schools violated the Equal Protection Clause."

Hudson joined the First Amendment Center in 1995, after spending a year as judicial clerk, and published his first book in 2002. Today, he writes regularly on the Supreme Court as First Amendment contributing editor to the American Bar Association's Preview of U.S. Supreme Court Cases and has published a number of other legal books, including The Rehnquist Court: Understanding Its Impact and Legacy (Praeger, 2006); a resource book, Prisoners' Rights (Facts on File, 2007), and a book on The Bill of Rights: The First Ten Amendments of the Constitution (2002). His works also include several sports books dealing with boxing, golf and basketball. He is co-editor of a two-volume Encyclopedia of the First Amendment that will be released by Congressional Quarterly Press later this year, to which he contributed approximately 200 entries.