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The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court Paperback – September 9, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It's not laws or constitutional theory that rule the High Court, argues this absorbing group profile, but quirky men and women guided by political intuition. New Yorker legal writer Toobin (The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson) surveys the Court from the Reagan administration onward, as the justices wrestled with abortion, affirmative action, the death penalty, gay rights and church-state separation. Despite a Court dominated by Republican appointees, Toobin paints not a conservative revolution but a period of intractable moderation. The real power, he argues, belonged to supreme swing-voter Sandra Day O'Connor, who decided important cases with what Toobin sees as an almost primal attunement to a middle-of-the-road public consensus. By contrast, he contends, conservative justices Rehnquist and Scalia ended up bitter old men, their rigorous constitutional doctrines made irrelevant by the moderates' compromises. The author deftly distills the issues and enlivens his narrative of the Court's internal wranglings with sharp thumbnail sketches (Anthony Kennedy the vain bloviator, David Souter the Thoreauvian ascetic) and editorials (inept and unsavory is his verdict on the Court's intervention in the 2000 election). His savvy account puts the supposedly cloistered Court right in the thick of American life. (A final chapter and epilogue on the 2006–2007 term, with new justices Roberts and Alito, was unavailable to PW.) (Sept. 18)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

The Nine is a welcome addition to the spate of recent Supreme Court histories (see Jan Crawford Greenburg's Supreme Conflict, ***1/2 May/June 2007). Informative and authoritative, Jeffrey Toobin's account draws on exclusive interviews with the principals (one critic cited a possible breach of secrecy) and offers colorful anecdotes about the members of the Court. The most important parts of the book explore Sandra Day O'Connor's critical swing votes, Clinton's impeachment hearings, and the Court's role in Bush v. Gore. "The tragedy," Toobin concludes, "was not that it led to Bush's victory, but the inept and unsavory manner that the justices exercised their power." Only David J. Garrow, a Supreme Court historian, faulted Toobin's "debatable opinions" and disdain for various justices. Well written, though chronologically disjointed, The Nine is, overall, a timely and important examination of the Court's past-and its future.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (September 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400096790
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400096794
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (418 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Jeffrey Toobin is a staff writer at The New Yorker, senior legal analyst at CNN, and the bestselling author of The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court, The Nine, Too Close to Call, A Vast Conspiracy, The Run of His Life and Opening Arguments. A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, he lives with his family in New York.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Over the years any number of best selling books have been written about the U.S. Supreme Court. If you are an avid reader like myself then you have probably read a few of them. Of all of the books I have read on this subject I found Jeffrey Toobin's new offering "The Nine: Inside The Secret World of the Supreme Court" to be among the very best. As senior legal analyst for CNN and a staff writer for "The New Yorker" Jeffrey Toobin is uniquely qualified to tackle a topic that most Americans know precious little about and frankly find a bit mysterious. Like peeling the skin from an onion Toobin succeeds in revealing just who these justices are and how they have evolved over time. It is a fascinating study.

One notion that "The Nine" certainly reinforces is the conventional wisdom that says there really is no way of predicting how a judge is going to vote on controversial issues after receiving a lifetime appointment to the United States Supreme Court. While it seems that majority of justices remain true to their philosophies after being appointed to the Court, a fairly significant percentage of appointees veer off in totally unexpected directions. Throughout "The Nine" Jeffrey Toobin introduces us to the men and women who have served on the Court over the past two decades. Depending on your point of view you will find some of the justices extremely likeable and others enigmatic. You will also learn who the reliable liberal and conservative votes are and who tends to occupy the center. And Jeffrey Toobin spotlights a number of controversial 5-4 cases where those 1 or 2 "swing" votes would make all the difference.

It is quite apparent that Jeffrey Toobin is a huge fan of the recently retired justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
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113 of 125 people found the following review helpful By Ronald H. Clark VINE VOICE on September 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The last several years have delivered a rich harvest of outstanding studies of the Supreme Court. In addition to some highly technical works by political scientists, journalists have contributed studies of remarkable value and insight. I am thinking here of Greenburg's incisive "Supreme Conflict"; Greenhouse's biography of Justice Blackmun; and Biskupic's perceptive study of Justice O'Connor to name a few (not to mention Jeffrey Rosen -- who is a George Washington law professor but who also writes for the popular press and presents PBS programs as well). The good fortune of we "Court watchers" continues in this exceptionally discerning study by Jeffrey Toobin who writes for the "New Yorker" among other publications.

Toobin covers roughtly the period of 1992 through the 2006-07 term of the Court. His focus is similar to that of Jan Crawford Greenburg in "Supreme Conflict": the frustration of conservatives at their inability to secure a Court that would implement their agenda on abortion, public support of religion, and diminution of federalism despite a conservative majority on the Court. But as both books so well explain, all that changed with the coming of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito--as some recent decisions which Toobin discusses in his final chapters indicate. What is interesting is that the same members made up the Court between 1994 and 2005; yet the dynamics of decisionmaking changed dramatically.

To trace this evolution, Toobin discusses the Federalist Society; the Thomas nomination; the pragmatism of Justice O'Connor; Jay Sekulow and his "American Center for Law and Justice";and the perplexing Clinton White House nominations of Justices Ginsburg and Breyer.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey T. Hammill on December 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This attempt to emulate the Woodward classic seems to fall short. The author clearly has a point of view as to how certain cases should come out and we get very little analysis of how the Court gets there. The Court is a political institution, granted, but the Constitution does matter in its decision making. The author often snipes at Scalia for suggesting the same. This book would have been better served with more analysis of the critical decisions and their precedents. Then the reader can form his or her own judgement as to whether the Court was right or wrong.
There is some interesting discussion of the personal relationships amongst the Justices. The liberal-conservative divide does not seem to preclude social activities and friendships, which do ultimately lead to a better functioning institution, something the other branches of government might want to consider.
Therefore, this is an interesting book, but if you are expecting a greater understanding and explanation of the Court's recent jurisprudence, forget it.
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44 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Current Affairs on September 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As we move toward the 2008 elections, this book sheds light on a vital arm of our government, and important issues framing the debates. Yes, Toobin may be showing his liberal leanings, but is this so unsettling in our free-speaking democratic society? What Toobin does well -- and is so qualified to do so -- is to share his wealth of knowledge and perspective on that all-important yet all-too-secretive government branch. He succeeds in enlightening us -- and probably, regarding some aspects, the justices themselves -- on several influential developments. One, as pointed out by a previous reviewer, being the courts growing dependence on decisions made abroad. The book is readable and informative...take the liberal leanings with a grain of salt..
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