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Book Review: Common Sense and the Fifth Amendment, 10 Stanford Law Review 785 (1958)


For years Professor Hook has waged a public love-affair with the Goddess of Reason. Rival suitors, humbly aware that she does not always requite their passion, may be forgiven when they wonder on what evidence Professor Hook lays exclusive claim to her favors, and by what commission he has annointed himself High Priest of her temple. In recent utterances on political subjects, he has invoked the Goddess ritually against the massed attacking hordes of "ritualistic liberals." It almost seems as though he spent the greater part of his time belaying his allies because they get in the way of the blows that he might otherwise strike at their common enemies.

At the start of this slender though repetitious volume, Professor Hook has disarmed criticism and propitiated the Goddess by using "common sense" in the title; by dedicating the work to the memory of Morris Raphael Cohen; by informing his readers that his position" expresses a common-sense truth which can be overlooked only by 'a trained incapacity,' to use Veblen's phrase, to see the obvious in a search for the historically recondite"; and by proclaiming his standpoint as "that of unreconstructed liberalism which recognizes the primacy of morality to law, and the centrality of intelligence in morality.... Experience has shown that those who, no matter in what cause, are foes of intelligence are the foes of freedom, too." It turns out that the main target of the book is that old archfoe of intelligence, Dean Erwin N. Griswold of the Harvard Law School, who wrote a booklet on The Fifth Amendment Today and later dared to take issue with Professor Hook in a polemic in the New Leader.

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