13 Pages

The Supreme Court in American Popular Culture

WithMaxwell Bloomfield

The new charter invariably borrowed planks from the Populist program and granted to the federal government regulatory power that had been denied by the Supreme Court. Within the federal system the Supreme Court served as an essential balancing force in determining the proper limits of state and national power. Charles Warren's The Supreme Court in United States History and Gustavus Myers' History of the Supreme Court of the United States broke important new ground in their treatment of the high bench and humanized work of the Justices far better than any contemporary fiction. The chapter examines "popular culture" very loosely to denote any Court-related materials that were designed for a general audience, regardless of their actual distribution or influence. The earliest glimpses of the Court in American fiction occur as set pieces in satirical travelogues. To the average American of the antebellum years Washington seemed a distant capital, whose power seldom intruded in any dramatic fashion upon one's daily life.