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9780252018718

Cloak and Gavel FBI Wiretaps, Bugs, Informers, and the Supreme Court

Cloak and Gavel FBI Wiretaps, Bugs, Informers, and the Supreme Court
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  • ISBN-13: 9780252018718
  • ISBN: 0252018710
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press

AUTHOR

Charns, Alexander

SUMMARY

The separation of powers becomes a meaningless cliche as Alexander Charns - using the Federal Bureau of Investigation's own files - reveals how that agency undermined the independence of the U.S. Supreme Court for a half-century. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover's goal was simple: to push the Supreme Court to the right on issues of civil rights and criminal law. His techniques ranged from illegal wiretapping to spreading disinformation, from using Justice Abe Fortas as an informant to trying to hound liberal Justice William O. Douglas off the bench. Cloak and Gavel, the definitive work on the FBI-Supreme Court relationship, is based on thousands of pages of FBI documents that Charns fought for eight years to obtain. One 2,000-page file was released only after he filed hundreds of Freedom of Information requests and brought lawsuits against the FBI. It establishes Hoover's strategies to influence the Senate confirmation process, incite the public against the Warren court, lobby for legislation to counteract judicial rulings, and use numerous informants inside the Court to both monitor and influence it. Charns was given special permission to conduct research using Justice Abe Fortas's papers, which had been sealed until the year 2000. These papers proved Fortas had acted as an informer for the White House and for the FBI during his tenure on the bench. Fortas ultimately left the Court in disgrace after an ethics scandal unrelated to his informant role. Charns also suggests that Hoover's death did not end the FBI's attempts to influence Congress and the federal judiciary - as evidenced by the role of the FBI in the explosive Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill Senate hearings in 1991. Until now, no onehas examined the ultimate constitutional violation - the FBI's attempts to influence the Court by any means available.Charns, Alexander is the author of 'Cloak and Gavel FBI Wiretaps, Bugs, Informers, and the Supreme Court' with ISBN 9780252018718 and ISBN 0252018710.

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