100 Americans Making Constitutional History: A Biographical History presents 100 profiles of the key people behind some of the most important U.S. Supreme Court cases. Edited by Melvin I. Urofsky, a respected constitutional historian, each 2,000-word profile delves into the social and political context behind landmark Court decisions. For example, while a case like Brown v. Board of Education is about an important idea—the equal protection of the law—at its heart it is the story of a little girl, Linda Brown, who wanted to go to a decent school near her home. The outcome is accessible and objective “stories” about the individuals—heroes and scoundrels—who fought their way to constitutional history.

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg

Atomic Espionage

“I Consider your Crime Worse than Murder”

Rosenberg v. United States

346 U.S. 273 (1953)

The 1951 Rosenberg conspiracy to steal the secrets of the atomic bomb was characterized by J. Edgar Hoover as the “crime of the century.” Jean-Paul Sartre called the case “a legal lynching which smears with blood a whole nation.” The case continues to spark political debate about whether the execution of the Rosenbergs was justified by the evidence or a tragic miscarriage of justice. Many consider Julius and Ethel Rosenberg traitors; others see them as victims of the cold war; while still others believe that they were guilty but framed by a belligerent government and that their punishment was excessive.

The main participants—defendants, witnesses, prosecutors, and judges—were ...

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