The Constitutional Rights of Children

In re Gault and Juvenile Justice

50th Anniversary Edition

David S. Tanenhaus

This new edition upon the 50th anniversary of In re Gault includes expanded coverage of the Roberts Court’s juvenile justice decisions including Miller v. Alabama; explains how disregard for children’s constitutional rights led to the “Kids for Cash” scandal in Pennsylvania; new legal developments in the Gault case; and, updates the bibliography and chronology.

When fifteen-year-old Gerald Gault of Globe, Arizona, allegedly made an obscene phone call to a neighbor, he was arrested by the local police, tried in a proceeding that did not require his accuser’s testimony, and sentenced to six years in a juvenile “boot camp”—for an offense that would have cost an adult only two months. Even in a nation fed up with juvenile delinquency, that sentence seemed excessive and inspired a spirited defense on Gault’s behalf. Led by Norman Dorsen, the ACLU ultimately took Gault’s case to the Supreme Court and in 1967 won a landmark decision authored by Justice Abe Fortas. Widely celebrated as the most important children’s rights case of the twentieth century, In re Gault affirmed that children have some of the same rights as adults and formally incorporated the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process protections into the administration of the nations juvenile courts.

“An effective tool for teachers and students to explore a crucial turning point in legal and constitutional history.

—Journal of American History

“Tanenhaus’s story allows for insights into the incorporation process, the role of the American Civil Liberties Union, oral argument, and the life of a case after it has been decided. . . . The author complements his study with a most useful chronology of events and a bibliographical essay.

—Choice

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About the Author

David S. Tanenhaus is professor of history and James E. Rogers Professor of History and Law at the William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is author of Juvenile Justice in the Making.

Additional Titles in the Landmark Law Cases and American Society Series