From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Congressional Quarterly reporter Stern and Wermiel, who teaches constitutional law at American University, have produced what will likely be the definitive biography of Supreme Court Justice William Brennan (1906–1997), arguably the most influential liberal justice in history. During 34 years on the court, he was instrumental in forming alliances with other justices resulting in majority opinions in such seminal cases as Roe v. Wade and Baker v. Carr (the one man–one vote case that changed America's political landscape). The book's strength is Wermiel's access to Brennan's private case notes (which are closed to the public until 2017) and dozens of interviews with Brennan himself. The case notes provide a detailed and fascinating account of how the Supreme Court functioned during Brennan's long tenure (from 1956 to 1990) that easily outshines recent high-profile books purporting to break the Court's seal of secrecy. Nowhere will readers find a better explanation of how the mix of personality and political philosophy drove, and presumably still drives, the Court. Both legal scholars and general readers will be delighted with this well-written, superbly documented biography, which may make liberals nostalgic for Brennan's court. 16 pages of b&w photos.
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"The authors balance differing accounts of Brennan the jurist and the man, presenting an evenhanded portrait of the affable but stubborn Justice."
"'Justice Brennan' provides the most comprehensive and well-organized look at the legendary liberal jurist to date. Stern and Wermiel dig below the popular cliche of Bill Brennan as the Constitution's Gene Kelly, all twinkling eyes and glad-to-see-ya Irish charm,” to reveal the complicated (and quite conservative) man beneath."--The New York Times
"Those who want to understand the glory and the contradictions of a true progressive jurist should buy the first full-length biography, Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion, by Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel."
--The Atlantic Online
"Brennan made a huge mark on our Constitution, and Stern and Wermiel illuminate his legacy remarkably well."
--Christian Science Monitor
"The definitive [Brennan] biography...a detailed and fascinating account... Both legal scholars and general readers will be delighted with this well-written, superbly documented biography."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"This sweeping biography of one of the most influential justices ever to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States invites the reader to witness the details of William J. Brennan Jr.'s personal life, the darker moments, as well as those that shine. It seats the reader in Brennan's chambers to listen to his conversations and see the memoranda exchanged with other justices and his law clerks ... In sum, the biography is an intimate account of Brennan's life, especially his 34 years on the Court."
--Newark Star Ledger
"The book offers an intelligent and interesting account both of Brennan's decades on the Court and of the broader developments in American life that intertwined with the Court's work."
--Ed Whelan, National Review Online
"The book takes care to place decisions and opinions in the context of Brennan's personal history, judicial philosophy and larger societal factors. It's deliciously gossipy when discussing how certain justices voted and what their opinions were of each other, but that information's also vital when understanding how the court operated."
--Dan Herman, Pacific Northwest Inlander