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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)
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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.See all Editorial Reviews
A well written account of the inner workings if the court. It does lean left, but still very interesting. Read morePublished 4 days ago by MPKNYC
I'll confess that I'm an attorney with a big interest in this subject, so factor that in, but personally I thought this book offered a fascinating, (if slightly dated), glimpse of... Read morePublished 1 month ago by D. L. Mendelssohn
Toobin has written a book for both the generalist and the specialist on the Supreme Court, our separation of powers system, and the role of judicial philosophy and decision making. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Christopher
The supreme court well explained. Somewhat out of date however.Published 2 months ago by perry smith
Excellent writing. Good insights to the whole process of the change from the Warren Court (liberal) to the Roberts Court (conservative). Read morePublished 2 months ago by Joseph Rudnicki