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Judge Frank Johnson And The Supremacy Of Law: A Study Of Judicial Activism

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Title: Judge Frank Johnson And The Supremacy Of Law: A Study Of Judicial Activism
Authors: Shimazu, Rachel
Issue Date: 26 Sep 2014
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: The federal judiciary is a three-tiered hierarchy. Most lay people, however, are only familiar with the United States Supreme Court and tend to identify all major judicial actions with that Court. This tendency is understandable since most controversial issues are eventually appealed to the Supreme Court. This system, however, has an unfortunate consequence -- lower court judges frequently do not receive the recognition that they rightfully deserve. In many instances, the Supreme Court simply affirms a lower court's decision and yet, it is the Supreme Court that is credited with the ruling. Before I began this paper, I had never heard of Frank Minis Johnson, Jr. My adviser suggested him as a possible topic for my thesis and so I did some exploratory research. I was astounded to read of the enormous impact of Judge Johnson's rulings and I was equally amazed at the lack of literature concerning his legal career and its implications. It was this initial discovery and surprise that ultimately led me to choose Frank Johnson as the subject of my thesis. At present, only one major study of Johnson has been written. Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr. by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., was published in 1978. Kennedy emphasizes the political peculiarities of the South and discusses Johnson, as well as other Alabama figures such as George Wallace, Jim Folsom, and John Patterson, in this context. This account, which is largely based on personal interviews with Johnson and his friends and acquaintances, is rich in intimate and often humorous anecdotes. By revealing such personal details, Kennedy shares his personal relationship with the Judge, and makes us care about Frank Johnson as a person. We are made to feel that we know Johnson -- from his preference for Horne Runs cigarettes to his passion for practical jokes. Unfortunately, the book's strength is also the cause of its major flaw. Kennedy's obvious admiration and affection for the Judge seems to preclude any serious criticism or analysis. Of course, one book cannot hope to address all aspects of an individual's life. I hope to add to Kennedy's account by contributing a different insight into the character of Frank Johnson through the examination his legal opinions and his judicial philosophy.
Pages/Duration: 56 pages
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Appears in Collections:Honors Projects for History

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