Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court

Jeffrey Toobin. The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court. New York: Doubleday, 2007

Review by Mark Schneider

If you are a long-term follower of the Supreme Court, then you probably don't need to read this book. In fact, you might want to quibble with Toobin's point of view on particulars. If, on the other hand, you are more like I was before reading this book, and the Supreme Court is a cloistered mystery, then you owe it to yourself as a citizen to read Toobin. Before reading this, I was persuaded and comforted by John Roberts's confirmation testimony of "just calling balls and strikes," and felt, well, how bad could it be? The answer is: pretty bad.

Toobin opened my eyes to the enormous level of politics on the court, and how much the court is dominated by conservative Republicans. But even though Toobin is clearly sounding the alarm (and he certainly isn't alone in that regard), he manages to have kind as well as damning words for all the Justices. I finished the book with generous thoughts about Justice Thomas, who certainly is about as far afield from my own political persuasion as I could imagine. From what I can tell (which includes quizzing people who have met and even tried cases before the Justices), it is a reasonable representation of today's Supreme Court.

A good and current book on an extremely important topic.

First Floor Smith Memorial KF8748 .T66 2007

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