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Supreme Myths: Why the Supreme Court Is Not a Court and Its Justices Are Not Judges

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0313396878
ISBN-10: 0313396876
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book is well-written, and tells background stories about several cases that may be of interest to students and some professors. . . . Supreme Myths may be a good book for undergraduates studying American government, judicial process, or constitutional law. Summing Up: Recommended." - Choice

Review

"Supreme Myths is a tough-minded examination of the Supreme Court's record in deciding constitutional cases. Segall argues that the Court falsely claims to be relying on traditional legal authority like text and precedent. Clearly written and uncompromising." (Robert F. Nagel, Rothgerber Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Colorado Law School. Author of Unrestrained: Judicial Excess and the Mind of the American Lawyer (Transaction, 2008))

"With clear examples drawn from the Supreme Court's checkered history of judicial review, Eric Segall exposes the myth that Justices are acting likely ordinary lawyers when they interpret the Constitution. In vigorous and easily understood language, Segall shows that they aren't―liberal or conservative, they are politicians in robes. His readers will gain important insights into the realities of our constitutional system, and may be provoked to think about whether we ought to do something about it." (Mark Tushnet is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.)

"Professor Segall's accessible, provocative, and biting critique of the Supreme Court raises important questions about how the Court's constitutional decisions affect the American people. His unique and bold voice on the Supreme Court has been an immeasurable asset to the national conversation I host everyday." (Pete Dominick, Host of Stand Up with Pete Dominick on SIRIUSXM's POTUS Channel)

"Professor Segall has produced a powerful argument against the popular myth that Supreme Court Justices are neutral judges performing mechanical judicial work. Tracing constitutional doctrine from civil rights to guns to abortion and economic regulation, he urges readers to piece the legal arguments for the value-laden choices beneath. Concluding with proposals for curbing judicial veto power, and suggestions for a more clear-eyed view of the Supreme Court, this is an invaluable addition to the conversation about the Supreme Court and the mythmaking in which we all to often indulge." (Dahlia Lithwick Senior Editor www.slate.com)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 219 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (February 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0313396876
  • ISBN-13: 978-0313396878
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,146,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Professor Eric Segall's book is an educating and eye-opening read to how our Court actually operates. It is apparent that Segall knows the material; he was able to repeatedly demonstrate how the Justices are not as judicial as they should be and provided good proposals as to how the Court could change for the better. I highly recommend this book to anyone (whether it is a gift for a lawyerly friend or for their own reading collection) who wants to know more about the Supreme Court, whether they are looking for a synopsis on any of the current controversial issues or for a compelling argument on why the decisions are so often 5-4 with the Justices almost always grouping together. Well done and well written.
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Format: Hardcover
The author, Eric J. Segall, makes a clear case that the Supreme Court does not make its decisions based on The Constitution as refined by previous decisions. I'm tempted to reply in the famous words of Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

The very fact that court members regularly split decisions down party lines is enough evidence that something other than jurisprudence is going on. The subjective Supreme Court can be contrasted with the objective work of the National Academy of Science. When this institution does a major study of a controversial, and even more complex issue, such as climate change or forensic science, there is always close to unanimity in its findings.

The bulk of his book is exploring specific strands of jurisprudence such as segregation, abortion, guns and church-state, while providing a good review, focuses too much on the obvious, that each justice is more than a high level processor of constitutional law, but a human being with passions, prejudices, convictions and ideologies. His attempt to exclude Brown v. Board from his broad swath of condemnation of these realities falls flat, ignoring the arguments of this case based on sociological studies far removed from the words of the fourteenth amendment. It was the concerted moral values of "Judges legislating from the bench," in this case by a unanimous decision not reached by legalistic arguments, but the calls to fairness to redress historical oppression, orchestrated by a that unlikely liberal, Earl Warren, that can not be excluded from the author's theses simply because that decision has transformed the mentality of our entire country.
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Format: Hardcover
As an attorney, I loved reading this book, and I agree with his assessment of the problem and the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court does not act like a real court, but makes its decisions based upon the poltical values of its membership. However, to some extent, that has always been the case, and it is not necessarily bad, but looked at in pure theory of how a court ought to operate such conduct creates bad law which leads to scary precedents.
However, I disagree with the author's proposed solution to the problem. I do agree with his idea that we should put a limit on the length of time they justices serve on the Sup Ct ,but I would prefer we elect 5 of the 9 judges in 5 regions of the country for seven year terms with a 3 term limit on service and allow the supreme court to elect its own Chief judge. I also think we should call them judges not justices. And I think the supreme court judges should be required to observe the original intent of the framers when making decisions where possible[ if acertainable]. And the judges in election or Senate confrimation should be required to explain their personal values and political beliefs and indicate how they may vote on major issues of the day. THey should not be bound by their statements [they might change their mind upon further reflection when a case is before them], but to let them get away by dodging the policy issues that currently passes for a confirmation hearing is a farce and diminishes both the Senate's duty to advise and consent and the nominee's credibitlity as a potential justice or judge. Clearly not what the framers had in mind.
terry jennrich
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Supreme Myths: Why the Supreme Court Is Not a Court and Its Justices Are Not Judges
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