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Uncertain Justice: The Roberts Court and the Constitution Audible – Unabridged

4.3 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews

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Format: Kindle Edition
When I started reading Uncertain Justice by Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz, I didn’t know what I was in for. I’m not a lawyer but I knew that Tribe is a leading constitutional scholar and Matz a contributor to SCOTUSblog. So I expected an interesting analysis of the Roberts Court. What I got was much more. For the first time, through what has been a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read, I gained a new appreciation of how to think about the issues that come before the Supreme Court. Yes, of course, I knew that Citizens United was about the freedom of speech, but I hadn’t considered that the Obamacare case was about liberty. And the authors’ take on gun rights was totally a surprise (I leave that to you, the reader, to discover for yourself). And like many (most??) amateur Court watchers (and even some professionals), I thought of the Court in simplistic terms: 4 liberals, 4 conservatives, and a swing vote. Not so! I even developed some (grudging) respect for the jurists I thought I disagreed with.

The other surprise was that the book is a page-turner. This derives from the unique way the authors develop each chapter. Starting with a reference point in popular culture, sports, or some item from the news, the reader is drawn into the story being told. Then, by laying out various threads to follow, the authors use almost a classic mystery-writer’s formula that get the reader to turn the page and follow the threads to their logical (and often surprising) conclusions. Each chapter reliably turns the same trick; I had to get to the end of each chapter before putting the book down for a break.

Another plus is the wealth of cocktail party knowledge I came away with.

I encourage others to read this book. You’ll come away with a greater appreciation about why and how the Court decided cases that affect all of our lives and what to expect in the coming years.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This delightful, generous, jargon-free book treats controversy with clarity: selects key facts to outline the issues, paints three-dimensional portraits, not caricatures, of the justices, and ventures confidently into legal thickets, so those in the know will recognize the signposts, but newcomers won't be detoured or get lost. The writers' erudition, craft, and civic virtue lifts their work above most popular books about the law. Their work has the briskness but not the glibness of Malcolm Gladwell, the twin respect for the reader and the subject of Steven Jay Gould.

It surprised me but made sense to learn that Scalia is more traditionalist than originalist, Breyer more technocrat than liberal, Kagan more cautious than activist. But the focus of the book is on rulings, not personalities, and here the writers function at their peak. I raced through the passages that describe the novel and narrow definition of corruption that justifies Citizens United, the three-century patchwork of sources that supports the court's changed view of the 2nd Amendment, the libertarian faith in structural safeguards as guarantors of individual rights. The book explains exactly what all this means with elegance and fairness.

Those of us who consider the Roberts court lawless might wish the book focused more on precedent: how brazen it is, for example, in Citizens United to overturn a century of law in a 5-4 decision based on newly-minted theory; or acknowledged recent research that demonstrates the decisive role of personal prejudice in rulings by Republican-appointed judges. The day I write this, June 16, 2014, the New York Times has published a study showing they are far more likely to rule in favor of womens' rights if they themselves have daughters.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Laurence Tribe is a brilliant constitutional scholar, but this book is targeted at the intelligent lay reader. It is *not* dumbed down, but it is not a law text-book; it is a brilliant and incisive analysis of the Roberts court, and it will, if nothing else, dispel much of what you think you know about the justices and provide context and deep understanding of the issues recently before the court.

Very highly recommended
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Format: Hardcover
This book has taught me so much about the supreme court. As someone who isn't that familiar with the legal system, I found this very easy to read and comprehend as this book does a tremendous job of applying past cases and issues and comparing them to more common situations, like baseball! It's very creative, extremely well written and I will DEFINITELY be on the look out for any future works from these two authors!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm in the middle of reading it, but I can already give you my review. Tribe and collaborator Matz write beautifully. They make these complicated cases easy to read about for both lawyers and non-lawyers. However, I must agree with LA Times reviewer Jim Newton, author of a previous fine book on Earl Warren. Newton correctly argues that Tribe and Matz "pull their punches" when criticizing the Roberts Court, because Tribe litigates in front of it and Matz will be clerking for Justice Kennedy starting in the 2014 Oct. term. Progressive Tribe bends over backwards to lavishly praise Justice Kennedy, who many rightly criticize for his rather grandiose views and expansive prose. Tribe/Matz even see Clarence Thomas as a brilliant legal thinker. Tribe wrongly argues that people miss the "free speech" angle of Citizens United that the Court had to address, that speech is curtailed by campaign finance views. IMHO,Tribe is basically spouting anti-campaign finance reform Sen. GOP Leader Mitch McConnell's talking points. Tribe seems to think that lobbying and gerrymandering are much more serious contributors to congressional gridlock than the millions big donors can give for influence. I "respectfully dissent." Yes weak lobbying laws and gerrymandering contribute to polarization but unlimited money is the "800 lb. gorilla" in the room to which Citizens United just gave 800 more pounds. Tribe's description of the Roberts Court downplays political leanings and calls the Court "in transition" and at the cusp on every key issue. Sure, because it has a 5-4 makeup. More conservative or more liberal additions would tip the Court in a clearer direction. Elections count. "Umpire", LOL Roberts, right now, can only go incrementally in pushing his conservative agenda, but is trying his best to get there. Still, this book, by one of the best legal thinkers must be read.
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