Edward Lazarus, a former Supreme Court clerk to Justice Harry Blackmun, spills the beans on an institution that values silence. Nobody is supposed to understand what happens behind the scenes of the high court--that's why the justices rarely speak to the media--but Lazarus tells all he knows from his time as a top aide to Blackmun in the Supreme Court's 1988 term. There's a lot of legal theory and history, but it's well presented and usually focuses on touchstone issues in U.S. politics; cases involving abortion, the death penalty, and racial preferences receive sustained treatment in these pages. There are gossipy bits, too, revealing unflattering details about several current justices. Sure to be one of the more controversial books of the year. --John J. Miller
From Library Journal
Part memoir, part constitutional history, this volume by a former law clerk to Justice Harry Blackmun reflects both his own experience at the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1988-89 term and substantial and original research. Lazarus, now a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, is a fine writer who makes accessible the legal esoterica behind the compelling struggles about such issues as the death penalty, abortion, and the role of race in the law. But his story is really a lamentation over, in his view, inconsistent and irrational adjudication, driven to an unprecedented degree by ideology and the manipulation practiced by unprincipled law clerks. Justices Kennedy and Brennan come in for particular attack on these grounds, while Justice Souter warrants his praise. Whether Lazarus is right or wrong in his assessment, this book is big news?few law clerks write such behind-the-scenes accounts. The clarity and authority with which he writes makes his contribution to the literature on the Supreme Court even more valuable. Recommended for all libraries.?Cynthia Harrison, George Washington Univ., Washington, DC
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