With All Deliberate Speed

The Life of Philip Elman
Norman I. Silber

A behind-the-scenes look at an unrecognized giant of American legal history and his role in the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education


From a modest childhood in Paterson, N.J., Philip Elman rose to become clerk for the great Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, and then to a position in the U.S. Solicitor General's office. It was there, in late 1952, that Elman contributed to what may have been the single most important government brief in Supreme Court history: Brown v. Board of Education. With the Court—and the country—bitterly split over school desegregation and the validity of "separate but equal," Elman's intimate knowledge of the Court enabled him to develop the concept that became known as "with all deliberate speed"—a phrase which unified the divided Court, but which continues to generate heated public debate to this day.

On this, the fiftieth anniversary of the Brown decision (May 17, 2004), With All Deliberate Speed offers fascinating new revelations about the inner workings of the court and the politics behind the Brown decision. Rich historical document and gripping story, this book is one of the great documents of the American battle for racial equality.

Philip Elman was responsible, in the Solicitor General's Office of the Department of Justice, for reviewing hundreds of cases involving civil rights, civil liberties and economic justice—including the epic case of Brown v. Board of Education. He later served as Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, where he played a major role in the rebirth of the consumer movement and in the antismoking movement.

Norman I. Silber is Professor of Law, Hofstra University School of Law. He is the author of Test and Protest: The Influence of Consumers Union and A Corporate Form of Freedom: The Emergence of the Nonprofit Sector. Philip Elman was responsible, in the Solicitor General's Office of the Department of Justice, for reviewing hundreds of cases involving civil rights, civil liberties and economic justice-including the epic case of Brown v. Board of Education.

Praise / Awards

  • "With All Deliberate Speed is just wonderful. It gives the reader fascinating insights into the Roosevelt era, the Supreme Court, the Justice Department. It is funny, and endearingly human. Three cheers!"
    —Anthony Lewis
  • "With All Deliberate Speed provides an insider's rich account, spanning over thirty years, of the inner workings of the Supreme Court, the Solicitor General's Office and the Federal Trade Commission that anyone seriously interested in a frank behind-the-scenes view of the federal government should find exceptionally provocative and intriguing."
    —Drew Days III, Yale University, U.S. Solicitor General, 1993-96
  • "The fascinating, eloquent and skillfully edited oral memoir of a distinguished public servant, who was at the epicenter of major legal controversies that his memoir illuminates. A major contribution to modern American legal history."
    —Richard A. Posner
  • "[An] engrossing book. . . . Silber has adapted the transcripts of a series of interviews he conducted for the Columbia Oral History Project in the early 1980s into a seamless memoir written in Elman's voice."
  • "One of the best American stories I have ever read."
    —Roger Wilkins
  • "Elman provides a behind-the-scenes view of government and shares his keen insights into the justices of the Supreme Court. Sibler, in turn, provides an informative commentary at the end of each chapter, annotating cases and identifying individuals, thus expanding on Elman's words. The reader who is unfamiliar with Philip Elman or the law need not fear that this book will be beyond his reach. . . . This is a book for those interested in law, social policy, government and achievement, but it is also about a thinking individual's life. It is worth reading."
    Jewish Book World
  • ". . . a provocative, behind-the-scenes story."
    Legal Times

Look Inside

Copyright © 2004, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 440 pages.
  • 16 B&W photograph section.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2011
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-02437-7

  • PDF: Adobe Digital Editions e-book (DRM Protected)

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