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The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court by…

The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court (1979)

by Bob Woodward, Scott Armstrong

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I picked up The Brethren because my sister-in-law went to high school with Bob Woodward and I figured the dude could use the royalties.

Seriously, however, Woodward's reputation for excellence in his work was set very early in his career when he and a man named Carl Bernstein (jointly known as "Woodstein") investigate a strange break-in of the National Democratic Party Headquarters in June, 1972. By the time they finished their investigation, it had taken down a President and most of the White House staff. It also changed how the American people would think about their leaders for a very, very long time. I was only 21 when the Watergate scandal began. It has deeply affected me, hurt me, and thoroughly corrupted the way I have approach politics.

That having all been said, let's look at the Brethren.

We're brought up to believe that the greatest jurists in the country are selected to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, But this book shows that the Court constantly fluctuates from one end of the political spectrum to the other, and that decisions that have "stood the test of time" can be toppled by a vote of 5 to 4 at any time. We have seen this happen more
often recently, and reading this book provides us with some valuable insight into why this is.

Most of the Justices discussed in this book are no longer members of the Court, and this will, of course, change the dynamics of how it operates. However, and more importantly, the ratio of conservative to middle-of-the-road to liberal has remained about the same. Therefore, the facts, foibles, and mistakes that Woodward and his team discovered during their research are still -- somewhat horrifyingly -- there.

One of the things that was ingrained in me as I was growing up was that Americans have an aegis placed on them. Because a group of men got together and pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors to create something the world had never seen before, we must also do the same. What isn't discussed out loud, however, is that, in order to do this, we must be educated, thoughtful people who understand how our government works and why.

The Brethren is one of the steps toward that understanding. ( )
  bfgar | Jul 28, 2014 |
Simply a reminder that I couldn't engage in this book. I did read 300 out of 400 pages, so giving myself credit for the read. It simply wasn't engaging. I get it---Burger was unorganized, not a strong leader, and certainly not a replacement for Earl Warren.
  PokPok | Jul 4, 2014 |
My nine part review of three books about the Supreme Court of the United States, exploring its historical and ideological conflicts, and the transformations it wrought upon law and society.

The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court, by Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong (1979)

The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, by Jeffrey Toobin (2007)

Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices, by Noah Feldman (2010)

http://driftlessareareview.com/category/mondays-with-the-supremes/ ( )
  kswolff | Apr 2, 2012 |
A good place to start in an investigation of the US Supreme Court. Obviously needs to be brought up to date. ( )
  carterchristian1 | Nov 21, 2011 |
KF8742 .W66 1979 (VJH)
  Farella | Mar 29, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bob Woodwardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Armstrong, Scottmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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A court which is final and unreviewable needs more careful scrutiny than any other. Unreviewable power is the most likely to self-indulge itself and the least likely to engage in dispassionate self-analysis . . . In a country like ours, no public institution, or the people who operate it, can be above public debate.
Warren E. Burger,
Circuit Court of Appeals Judge, to Ohio Judicial Conference on September 4, 1968 - nine months before being named Chief Justice of the United States
To Katherine Graham, Chairman of the Board, The Washington Post Company, for her unwavering commitment to an independent press and the First Amendment. And to our children, Tali, Thane and Tracey.
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The United States Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, is the final forum for appeal in the American judiciary.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671241109, Hardcover)

The Brethren is the first detailed behind-the-scenes account of the Supreme Court in action. Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong have pierced its secrecy to give us an unprecedented view of the Chief and Associate Justices -- maneuvering, arguing, politicking, compromising and making decisions that affect every major area of American life.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:03 -0400)

Examines the history of the United States Supreme Court, explains how it works, discusses the Chief and Associate Justices from 1969 to the present, and examines many of the Court's cases and decisions.

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