- Audio CD: 10 pages
- Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (September 18, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0449013677
- ISBN-13: 978-0449013670
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 5.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 267 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,079,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Oath: The Obama White House and The Supreme Court Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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A Letter from the Author
Think John Roberts has discovered his inner moderate? Don’t bet on it.
It is true, of course, that Chief Justice Roberts’s vote in the health-care case saved the Affordable Care Act – and perhaps Barack Obama’s presidency as well. At the end of the Supreme Court’s last term, Roberts joined with the Court’s four liberals – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – to uphold the constitutionality of the health-care reform law. It was the first time ever that the Chief joined with the liberal quartet in a major case. It’s also probably the last.
Roberts has the advantage of a long-term perspective. At fifty-seven years old, Roberts will likely still be Chief Justice when Sasha and Malia Obama become eligible to succeed their father in the White House. Roberts’s decision in the health-care case reflected his understanding of his place in the history of the Court. In terms of public attention, the health-care case – known as National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius – formed a trilogy with Bush v. Gore (2000) and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010). In those first two cases, five Republican appointees to the Court rendered decisions which provided dramatic benefits to the Republican Party – the first, by installing George W. Bush as president, and the second, by creating a campaign finance system that favors the GOP. In the health-care case, Roberts had to ask himself whether the five Republicans on the Court were going to destroy the central achievement of a Democratic president.
Roberts chose not to go that far. His Republican allies, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, overplayed their hand. They sought to invalidate the law it its entirety, not just the controversial individual mandate. If Roberts had joined them, the Chief would have stirred volcanic partisan outrage and placed the Supreme Court at the center of the 2012 election. Instead, he chose a novel ground – Congress’s constitutional power to levy taxes – to uphold the law. He established new limits on the Commerce Clause, which is usually the principal means for Congress to regulate the economy. He advanced the conservative cause in the long run by disappointing conservatives in the short run.
Chief Justice Roberts also gave himself a political free hand for the foreseeable future. He can be as conservative as he likes and he has insulated himself from criticism for partisanship. That will be important – soon. The Court will likely consider several politically incendiary issues in its 2012-13 term. May universities use race as a consideration in admissions, as Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said they could, in a famous decision from 2003? Does the Voting Rights Act of 1965 discriminate against white voters and legislators in southern states? Does the Defense of Marriage Act discriminate unlawfully against gay people? And – most dramatically of all – does the constitution include a right to same-sex marriage?
Look for Roberts to lead the conservative side on all of these issues. For the next year, and many more, the Chief Justice’s vote in the health-care case will be seen as the great aberration of his judicial career.
*Starred Review* From the awkward swearing-in of President Obama by Chief Justice Roberts to Obama’s caustic reaction to the Citizens United ruling to Roberts’ support of Obama’s health-care law, the tumultuous relationship between the administration and the Supreme Court has been increasingly evident. Both Harvard-educated lawyers, Obama and Roberts are known for their charm and intelligence, but their very different political perspectives have promised friction from the beginning, particularly as changes in the composition of the court resonate with the changes in national politics. Legal analyst Toobin offers a vivid inside look at the personalities and politics behind the fractious relationship. Roberts’ honeymoon lasted 12 months before the fault lines in the court cracked along ideological lines, with conservatives disappointed in his attempts at equanimity and liberals distrustful of his behind-the-scenes maneuverings. Toobin details the politics behind decisions about what cases even get heard as well as the procedural strategies that affect the final rulings. Among the highlights: Ginsburg’s scathing dissent on a ruling against a claim of pay disparity, in which she urged congressional action; Souter’s caustic dissent in Citizens United that questioned Roberts’ integrity; and Scalia’s bitter disappointment in Roberts’ decision on the health-care law. A revealing look at the ideological battle between the White House and the Supreme Court. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The best-selling author of The Nine (2007) revisits the Supreme Court in a timely book that is sure to draw plenty of interest during the election season. --Vanessa Bush --This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.
Top customer reviews
For all those interested in Supreme Court history and the lives of the individual justice, this is a must read. Toobin also brings to life the manner in which judges are appointed and how one decision, one minor factor can be the deciding factor as to whether or not a person gets a seat on the high court.
I an only look forward to Toobin's next book. And if I had to guess, I would guess that it will be on Justice Scalia.
The book is also strongly opinionated -- moreso than I expected. He argues forcefully that Roberts came to the court with a "conservative" agenda in mind that was at the root the opposite of conservative. The Roberts court, in his view, was on a mission to overturn much of the law settled by Supreme Court decisions from the New Deal on. Toobin argues this compellingly, and argues that it was a radical rather than a conservative approach. I found his arguments convincing, but his political views are in line with my own. A more conservative -- or more Republican -- reader might find the arguments less convincing. Whether or not you agree, however, this book is well worth reading, both informative and thought provoking.
Woven throughout the first half of this book are snapshot biographies of the two newest justices, Sotomayor and Kagan. The subtitle of the book captures it perfectly: "The Obama White House and the Supreme Court."
(1) The botched oath on inauguration day
(2) The Lily Ledbetter Act
(3) The Citizens United Case (gets the extra attention it deserves)
(4) The arguments and decision on the Affordable Care Act
Toobin definitely sympathizes with the liberals on the court more than the conservatives and it comes out in his writing. He does have some kind words at times for Roberts and the conservatives, but the major flaw in this book is that he doesn't leave it up to the reader to decide what was right and wrong.
Nonetheless, it's a very good book.
Toobin excels in his ability to explain the most abstract of legal arguments in an easily accessible way. He is also a master of the telling anecdote and the short biographical sketch. I was fascinated by his summaries of the early lives and careers of President Obama, Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Sotomayor and Kagan. In The Oath Toobin covers Roberts' tenure as Chief Justice, and provides many fascinating details about the way the Chief Justice works with the other justices, usually combining with the four other conservatives to carry the day on decisions like Citizens United but sometimes, as with the health care decision, joining the four moderate/liberals in an attempt to maintain the Court's independence and freedom from political attack.
The nine justices have a great deal of influence on the lives of Americans, but few of us know much about them. Toobin gives us some insights into their personalities, life histories, and philosophies. He also, and this is probably the most valuable insight in The Oath, gives us some perspective into the probable future course of the Court, as the Chief Justice prepares for a career that could stretch for two more decades at least and as both liberal and conservative justices grow old and inevitably are replaced. It seems clear that there will be more controversial decisions like Citizens United in the next few years, and that it will be even more important for Americans to understand how the Supreme Court functions. Jeffrey Toobin's books The Nine and The Oath will be essential reading for years to come.
Most recent customer reviews
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