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The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court Paperback – September 9, 2008
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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 the Audible Audio Edition edition.
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 the Audible Audio Edition edition.
Top customer reviews
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I really appreciated the glimpses Toobin gives us of the private lives of the court members. You meet the conservative Scalia, the battle scarred conservative Clarence Thomas, the brilliant and scholarly Sandra Day O'Connor, the reserved and quiet David Souter, the sturdy leader Judge Rehnquist, and the others. You learn about the Ruth Bader Ginsburg nomination process, and the challenges that the Court faced in deliberating cases related to the abortion issue.
I would recommend this book to anyone. Thumbs up.
The best part of the book is his biographical sketches of the Justices. Toobin really makes them come to life and has some very interesting behind-the-scenes vignettes of them. Especially interesting is his analysis of the Clinton and Bush II nominees - especially the Harriet Miers debacle and the John Roberts nomination.
The book sometimes wanders when it discusses the actual cases and his analysis of Bush v. Gore is too partisan for my tastes (and I am a Democrat). But for someone who didn't take Constitutional Law in law school, this will be a good summary of the most important recent decisions.
The only main criticism I have is the structure. Toobin never gives a roadmap as to what he is going to cover and the chapter headings don't allow the reader to know what the chapter is going to be about (e.g. "Just Deserts" or "Question Presented"). He was being too cute here and took me a while to figure out where the book was heading (it's fairly chronological after the first 50 pages).
In all, I found myself tearing through this book and for a topic that could be potentially very boring, I will tip my hat to Toobin.
Most recent customer reviews
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