Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Dervan on Georgia's Noble Revolution: Three Governors, Two Armies, the Georgia Supreme Court, and the Gubernatorial Election of 1946
Posted by Mary L. Dudziak
Georgia's Noble Revolution: Three Governors, Two Armies, the Georgia Supreme Court, and the Gubernatorial Election of 1946 is a recent article by Lucian E. Dervan. It appeared in the Journal of Southern Legal History (2007). Here's the abstract: In 1946, the governor-elect of Georgia died, sparking a constitutional battle that brought a state government to its knees and a state supreme court to the height of its power. As two armies drew up on the streets of Atlanta, fights erupted in the executive offices and two men stood head to head in a battle for the vacant governor's seat. Into this fray, however, came the rule of law in the form of the state courts, and what may have swelled into an armed conflict of unseen proportions in twentieth century American politics ended with the stirring strike of the state supreme court's gavel. While the war over the executive powers ended without a single gunshot, the staggering battles that took place in the state court system provide a fascinating glimpse at Southern legal and political history in the mid-twentieth century. This article not only explores a court struggling to define itself as a legitimate independent branch of government, but also examines attorneys and judges laying the groundwork for an originalist argument that would become a major constitutional movement decades later. Through all this, the article discusses not only the history of a magnificent case, but also the evolution of legal institutions and ideas in the mid-1900s.