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The Supreme Court: The Personalities and…
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The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America

by Jeffrey Rosen

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This book did a great job of examining the evolution of the court through the pivotal times on the court by displaying the conflict between two justices and expanding it to look at the court as a whole. ( )
1 vote bshultz1 | Dec 10, 2013 |
This book did a great job of examining the evolution of the court through the pivotal times on the court by displaying the conflict between two justices and expanding it to look at the court as a whole. ( )
  bshultz1 | Dec 10, 2013 |
Explores the inner workings of the Supreme Court by comparing the philosophies and decisions of four pairs of justices who served together. ( )
1 vote dickmanikowski | Jun 26, 2010 |
Here’s an interesting technique of historiography: match up pairs of historical figures, making sure that in each pair you agree with one, and disagree with the other. Then praise the one in almost every way, while denigrating the other. Lastly, declare that the first was on the side of truth and justice, while the other was merely self-serving. Rosen applies this rubric to pairs of Supreme Court Justices through the ages (although, oddly, he pairs John Marshall with Thomas Jefferson, who of course was never on the Court). Rosen is somewhat ambivalent about the actual role of truth and justice on the Court, but he pulls no punches in proclaiming his thesis that a jurist who looks only to his own legacy will, in the end, have a very poor legacy indeed. He holds in high regard those Justices who essentially play along to get along, and work toward consensus and unity on the Court (he includes Marshall, Harlan, Black, and Rehnquist as the more collegial Justices), rather than those Justices who carve their own jurisprudential path and stick to it (Jefferson, Holmes, Douglas, and Scalia get labeled as “ideologues” under this rubric). Rosen’s thesis may seem unbiased, but he doesn’t give us enough of a reason to believe that consensus is a virtue in its own right. As hard as it is to come down on the same side of any issue as Justice Scalia, I find myself wondering if developing a clear and consistent legal theory, and then applying it fairly, isn’t more important than trying to get people to agree with you.

Having dispensed with the basic premise of Rosen’s book, I did quite enjoy the book itself. It’s very well written, and the anecdotes about both current and historical figures are very interesting. Any student of the Court, or even those with a more cursory interest, will find this book a valuable and enjoyable read. ( )
1 vote mzonderm | Oct 16, 2009 |
This was a great book. It was a fairly short read but it covered the most influential figures on the bench. The author focused on temperament and how each judge's temperament changed and influenced the bench. Each chapter would compare and contrast two judges from the past to present.

I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting and the reader was able to see how individual personalities really did affect how they ruled and the political leanings of the Supreme Court.

I definitely recommend this to anyone who is interested in learning a little bit about the U.S. Supreme Court. ( )
2 vote Angelic55blonde | Mar 2, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805081828, Hardcover)

A leading Supreme Court expert recounts the personal and philosophical rivalries that forged our nation's highest court and continue to shape our daily lives

The Supreme Court is the most mysterious branch of government, and yet the Court is at root a human institution, made up of very bright people with very strong egos, for whom political and judicial conflicts often become personal.
In this compelling work of character-driven history, Jeffrey Rosen recounts the history of the Court through the personal and philosophical rivalries on the bench that transformed the law--and by extension, our lives. The story begins with the great Chief Justice John Marshall and President Thomas Jefferson, cousins from the Virginia elite whose differing visions of America set the tone for the Court's first hundred years. The tale continues after the Civil War with Justices John Marshall Harlan and Oliver Wendell Holmes, who clashed over the limits of majority rule. Rosen then examines the Warren Court era through the lens of the liberal icons Hugo Black and William O. Douglas, for whom personality loomed larger than ideology. He concludes with a pairing from our own era, the conservatives William H. Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia, only one of whom was able to build majorities in support of his views.

Through these four rivalries, Rosen brings to life the perennial conflict that has animated the Court--between those justices guided by strong ideology and those who forge coalitions and adjust to new realities. He illuminates the relationship between judicial temperament and judicial success or failure. The stakes are nothing less than the future of American jurisprudence.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:52 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The Supreme Court is the most mysterious branch of government, and yet it is at root a human institution, made up of very bright people with very strong egos, for whom political and judicial conflicts often become personal. In this character-driven history, Rosen recounts the history of the Court through the personal and philosophical rivalries on the bench that transformed the law--and by extension, our lives. Through these four rivalries, he brings to life the perennial conflict that has animated the Court--between those justices guided by strong ideology and those who forge coalitions and adjust to new realities.--From publisher description. Companion to the PBS series. Also includes information on African Americans, Brown v. Board of Education, George W. Bush, Bush v. Gore, civil liberties, civil rights, conservatives, criminal procedure, Declaration of Independence, Democratic Party, Dred Scott v. Sandford, economic regulation, elections, executive (presidential) power, Federalist Party, federal (national) power, Fourteenth Amendment, Fourth Amendment, freedom of assembly, freedom of contract, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, Giles v. Harris, Gitlow v. New York, Griswold v. Connecticut, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, impeachment, judicial abstinence, judicial activism, judicial discretion, judicial independence, judicial politics, judicial restraint, judicial review, judicial subjectivity, judicial temperament, Ku, Klux Klan, labor law, liberals, Lochner v. New York, majority rule (majoritarianism), Marbury v. Madison, McCulloch v. Maryland, Miranda v. Arizona, New Deal, original meaning (originalism), Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Plessy v. Ferguson, pragmatism, right to privacy, racial discrimination, Ronald Reagan, Reconstruction Amendments, Republican Party (modern), Republicans (Jeffersonian), John Roberts, Roe v. Wade, Franklin D. Roosevelt, secession, segregation, states rights, Thirteenth Amendment, Clarence Thomas, U.S. Congress, U.S. Constitution, Earl Warren, etc.… (more)

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