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The nine : inside the secret world of the Supreme Court
Jeffrey Toobin
Adult Nonfiction KF8748 .T66 2007

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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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Forty percent of cases that reach the U.S. Supreme Court produce unanimous decisions. It is the others that pose problems, especially those involving issues that the elected branches of government have failed to resolve. In a sense, the Court serves as political umpire, with its decision making done in secret. The world of the Supreme Court has been probed in books like Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong's The Brethren (about the Burger Court). Toobin (Opening Arguments) follows their pattern with the Rehnquist and Roberts Courts, basing his work on interviews with the justices and 75 law clerks (conducted on a not-for-attribution basis). Toobin writes like a skillful literary critic as he attempts to understand the character and values of each justice, their outlook on life, and their jurisprudence. He makes a convincing case that the Rehnquist Court was really Sandra Day O'Connor's moderate Court-she was the swing vote for moderation. Toward the end, Rehnquist largely gave up on transforming the Court in his image. The future direction of the Court, i.e., whether it goes extremist or remains more moderate, is clearly in the hands of the next President. Toobin himself seems hopeful that Justice Stephen Breyer may further promote moderation. Beautifully written, this is an essential purchase for all libraries interested in the contemporary Supreme Court. (The final chapter, on the 2006-07 term, was not available for review.)-William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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