The Champion

February 2009 , Page 59 

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Book Reviews

By Adam Good, Bruce A. Green

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On the Laps of Gods: The Red Summer of 1919 and The Struggle for Justice That Remade a Nation

By Robert Whitaker
Crown Publishers (2008)
Reviewed by Andrew Good 

As long as it remains poisoned by racial discrimination, America’s criminal justice system is unworthy of its name. NACDL has always been in the vanguard of the ongoing struggle to purge the poison. For us, Robert Whitaker’s invaluable book is essential to understanding the criminal defense bar’s genealogy. It identifies an ancestral father: Scipio Africanus Jones, a lawyer who practiced in Phillips County, Arkansas. He was born a slave and his mother named him after Scipio Africanus, a Roman who defeated Hannibal and conquered Africa.

On the Laps of Gods recounts how post-Civil War decisions of the Supreme Court stripped the 14th Amendment of its dual promises of due process and equal protection of the law as guarantees against the recurrence of the racial violence that was essential to enslavement and oppression. The result was

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