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The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction

4.5 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199754540
ISBN-10: 0199754543
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"[A] new one-of-a-kind book on the Supreme Court." --SCOTUSblog


"Linda Greenhouse has long been one of the most astute observers of the U.S. Supreme Court and most trusted translators of its mysteries and traditions. This elegant and concise guide is invaluable for beginners and veteran court watchers alike. An ideal introduction to the Court for students and citizens of all ages." --Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law, George Washington University, and legal affairs editor, The New Republic


"There is hardly anyone in the country, outside the Court, who knows the institution and its practices as well as Linda Greenhouse does."--Melvin I. Urofsky, author of Louis D. Brandeis: A Life


"Greenhouse cogently illustrates the history, functions, composition and importance of the Supreme Court. In a slim volume that you can literally carry around in your pocket, you will find a wealth of knowledge." --Yale Daily News


"[A]n amuse-bouche of a book . . . short, but pithy. After finishing this book, readers should be inspired to take up [Greenhouse's] implicit invitation to read about the Court and its impact on shaping American law in a more substantial, meatier format." --Judicature


"For those interested in how cases come to be heard by the Court, the process leading to a decision and the Court's relationship with the other branches of the federal government and the public, this is an excellent way to begin." --Washington Independent Review of Books


About the Author


Linda Greenhouse was the New York Times Supreme Court correspondent for 30 years, covering thousands of decisions written by 18 different justices. She was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in journalism (beat reporting) in 1998. She in now Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School and writes a biweekly opinion column on the Supreme Court and the law for the New York Times web site. Her books include Becoming Justice Blackmun: Harry Blackmun's Supreme Court Journey and Before Roe v. Wade: Voices That Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court's Ruling (with Reva B. Siegel).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (March 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199754543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199754540
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.4 x 4.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By wogan TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
Linda Greenhouse has written a very succinct guide to the Supreme Court. For such a small book it contains a wealth of information. It covers the origins of the court, the court at work, the justices and the chief justice, the court and the other branches of the government, the public and the world.
There are a few small black and white illustrations, an index, and an appendix that covers the articles in the constitution regarding the court, its rules, and a chart of the justices, further references, reading and websites.

The book is well written and communicates in an interesting way, the history of the court and the probabilities of being able to take your case all the way to the Supreme Court and the requirements for a case to be heard. There are very good details of what it is like in the courtroom itself and there is information about specific cases ranging from well-known to those that are not so well known.
This is indeed a useful guide to the court itself and a good lesson in that part of the judicial branch.
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Format: Paperback
The Supreme Court considers and resolves legal issues of great moment in the United States but remains a mystery to many Americans. Linda Greenhouse's "The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction" (2012) offers an overview of the Supreme Court, its history and workings, and its place in American government. Greenhouse covered the Supreme Court for the New York Times for over 30 years and currently teaches at the Yale University Law School in addition to continuing to write about the Court. Her book is part of the "Very Short Introductions" series of Oxford University Press. The OUP offers the following description of the goal of the series. "Very Short Introductions can change the way you think about the things that interest you, and are the perfect introduction to subjects you previously knew nothing about. Because of this, they have proven to be extremely popular with general readers, as well as students and their lecturers."

In addition to the overall purpose of the series, Greenhouse explains her own specific goals for the book.

"This book is not intended primarily as a work of history. Its aim is to enable readers to understand how the Supreme Court of the United States operates today. But while detailed knowledge of the Court's history is not required for that purpose, acquaintance with the Court's origins helps appreciate the extent to which the Supreme Court that we know today has been the author of its own history. From the beginning, it has filled in the blanks of Article III [of the Constitution] by defining its own power..... That process of self-definition continues today.
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By KG on February 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted a small and succinct reference book and there may be a better one, but I can't imagine there is. Something I was looking for was a list of all the justices and when they served. This book has that list and it's current; including Justices Roberts and Alito. When one is reading about a certain court decision one can look at that list and see who the other justices were and what president nominated them.
Just what I was looking for.
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NY Times Supreme Court reporter/ author Linda Greenhouse shows her knowledge of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in this short book. I, apparently, read the book's first printing in which Greenhouse incorrectly described the Lynch v. Donnelly decision as a school prayer case. The actual Lynch opinion permitted placing a creche in a RI public park along with other holiday symbols. Lee v. Weisman was the junior high graduation prayer case. When I e-mailed her about this, she immediately and graciously responded to me that this mix-up had been corrected after the first printing. Kudos to her! Again, this book is worth reading for the Court's history, interaction with Congresses and Presidents, and the cases discussed.
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I unreservedly recommend Greenhouse's book for distinguished jurists and lawyers, as well as for laymen interested in the Constitution and the functioning of the Supreme Court. There are marvelous nuggets of personal insight and of judicial history and analysis that would enlighten us all.

Linda Greenhouse is one of my favorite Supreme Court chroniclers of our era. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and other distinguished awards for her NEW YORK TIMES coverage of the Supreme Court (1978 to 2007, with a two-year break in the mid-80s),Greenhouse is uncommonly well versed in the Constitution, the Supreme Court, and the judicial personalities of recent Court justices. She also displays flashes of personal opinion, especially on abortion, same-sex marriage, and a flexible application of a constitution written nearly 250 years ago

Taking early retirement from the TIMES in 2008,Greenhouse teaches at Yale Law School and writes frequent, opinionated TIMES commentary columns. The most recent, 7/10/13, was on the debilitating long-term affect of carefully crafted, compromise Court majority opinions.

THE SUPREME COURT is part of the Oxford Very Short Introduction series that, since, 1995, has covered over 300 topics. In only 98 pages Greenhouse provides a thumb-nail sketch of the Supreme Court's history and several turning-point cases. Far more important, she describes, with exquisite examples: how the Court functions, critical issues of law, the long-term impact of public opinion, and how personal the process can become. This is the inside story from a highly-respected insider. (Seven of nine sitting Supreme Court justices attended her farewell party.
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