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The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the…

The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court (2007)

by Jeffrey Toobin

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Informative and entertaining. Great recent history of the supreme court. ( )
  AllInStride | Apr 20, 2016 |
I was hoping this would be a history of the court, but it was really about how the court affected America since the 1980s. It was fascinating to hear about the internal politics and ideology of the justices. They each reflect the best and the worst of America: partisanship and pluralism, credulity and sophistication. We talk about the conservatives and liberals on the bench, but the justices are more complex than just simple labels. Some of them defy labels. They are placed in their seats by politics and sometimes very politically active, yet in their best moments they are somehow above all of that.

Toobin's thesis was that the conservatives saw they were losing influence in the court in the 1970s and started a movement to change that. It worked to some extent, but with the polarization of liberals and conservatives, moderates are left with the deciding vote. Namely Sandra Day O'Connor, and to a lesser-extent Anthony Kennedy. ( )
  richjj | Jan 27, 2016 |
Extremely interesting, very readable. A fascinating insider's look at the US Supreme Court. ( )
  cjservis | Jan 17, 2016 |
An interesting behind the scenes look at the Supreme Court. Toobin obviously did a lot of research on the subject andI found the look at what really goes on in the Supreme Court to be fascinating. ( )
  RachelNF | Jan 15, 2016 |
Jeffrey Toobin showcases his storytelling skills in an immensely enjoyable overview of the last two decades of the Supreme Court. While I was familiar with a lot of the constitutional law from two classes in college, Toobin illuminates the decision with behind-the-scenes information and stories that show just how close some decisions were.

One hilarious thing about the book was a passing reference to Critical Legal Studies as why liberals had lost momentum in jurisprudence movements, while the book itself is almost exactly what you'd expect out of a Critical Legal Studies analysis of the court. Toobin uses each judge's background, histories, and interpersonal reactions with other Justices and outside parties to explain why they arrived at the conclusions they did. For example, Clarence Thomas' votes on decisions are because of his nineteenth-century conservatism, but that just raises the question of why he believes that as his ideology.

Near the end, Toobin even explicitly says that many Supreme Court decisions are inherently political, and not anywhere near Roberts' analogy of an simple "umpire." It would have been nice if he pursued this theory more fully, rather than worked his way to it by an accumulation of anecdotes. But more thorough theoretical study would have quickly ballooned this book beyond a svelte 400 pages (with moderately-large text) and slowed down the ripping yarn he quickly wants to tell. Instead of providing us with a framework that will span into the future, Toobin thinks it more important to understand the Justices as merely human through their stories. And in that, at least, he is wildly successful. ( )
  gregorybrown | Oct 18, 2015 |
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Prologue, The Steps - The architect Cass Gilbert had grand ambitions for his design of a new home for the Supreme court - what he called "the greatest tribunal in the world, one of the three great elements of our national government."
Chapter 1, The Federalist War of Ideas - For a long time, during the middle of the twentieth century, it wasn't even clear what it meant to be a judicial conservative.
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Nice fluid style, imminently readable. Sheds a lot of light on an institution that we don't hear much about, aside from their decisions.
Haiku summary
Judicial power

Lies not in the Chief Justice

But with the swing vote.


Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385516401, Hardcover)

Bestselling author Jeffrey Toobin takes you into the chambers of the most important—and secret—legal body in our country, the Supreme Court, and reveals the complex dynamic among the nine people who decide the law of the land.

Just in time for the 2008 presidential election—where the future of the Court will be at stake—Toobin reveals an institution at a moment of transition, when decades of conservative disgust with the Court have finally produced a conservative majority, with major changes in store on such issues as abortion, civil rights, presidential power, and church-state relations.

Based on exclusive interviews with justices themselves, The Nine tells the story of the Court through personalities—from Anthony Kennedy's overwhelming sense of self-importance to Clarence Thomas's well-tended grievances against his critics to David Souter's odd nineteenth-century lifestyle. There is also, for the first time, the full behind-the-scenes story of Bush v. Gore—and Sandra Day O'Connor's fateful breach with George W. Bush, the president she helped place in office.

The Nine is the book bestselling author Jeffrey Toobin was born to write. A CNN senior legal analyst and New Yorker staff writer, no one is more superbly qualified to profile the nine justices.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:23 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

As the Supreme Court continues to rule on important issues, it is essential to understand how it operates. Based on exclusive interviews with the justices themselves and other insiders, this is a timely "state of the union" about America's most elite legal institution. From Anthony Kennedy's self-importance, to Antonin Scalia's combativeness, to David Souter's eccentricity, and even Sandra Day O'Connor's fateful breach with President George W. Bush, this book offers a rare personal look at how the individual style of each justice affects the way in which they wield their considerable power. Toobin shows how--since Reagan--conservatives were long thwarted in their attempts to control the Court by some of the very justices they pressured Presidents to appoint. That struggle ended with the recent appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, and Toobin relays the behind-the-scenes drama in detail, as well as the ensuing 2007 Court term.… (more)

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