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The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Courtby Jeffrey Toobin
Synopses & Reviews
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. Then, with great suddenness, during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, judges and lawyers on the right found a voice and an agenda. Their goals reflected and reinforced the political goals of the conservative wing of the Republican Party.
Earl Warren, who served as chief justice of the United States from 1953 to 1969, exerted a powerful and lasting influence over American law. The former California governor, who was appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower, put the fight against state-sponsored racism at the heart of his agenda. Starting in 1954, with Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed segregation in public education, the justices began more than a dozen years of sustained, and usually unanimous, pressure against the forces of official segregation. Within the legal profession in particular, Warren's record on civil rights gave him tremendous moral authority. Warren and his colleagues, especially William J. Brennan Jr., his close friend and strategist, used that capital to push the law in more liberal directions in countless other areas as well. On freedom of speech, on the rights of criminal suspects, on the emerging field of privacy, the Warren Court transformed American law.
To be sure, Warren faced opposition, but many of his Court's decisions quickly worked their way into the permanent substructure of American law. New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, which protected newspapers that published controversial speech; Miranda v. Arizona, which established new rules for interrogating criminal suspects; even Griswold v. Connecticut, which announced a right of married people to buy birth control, under the broader heading of privacy-all these cases, along with the Warren Court's many pronouncements on race, became unassailable precedents.
Richard M. Nixon won the presidency in part by promising to rein in the liberalism of the Court, but even though he had the good fortune to name four justices in three years, the law itself wound up little changed. Under Warren E. Burger, whom Nixon named to succeed Warren, the Court in some respects became more liberal than ever. It was under Burger that the court approved the use of school busing, expanded free speech well beyond Sullivan, forced Nixon himself to turn over the Watergate tapes, and even, for a time, ended all executions in the United States. Roe v. Wade, the abortion rights decision that still defines judicial liberalism, passed by a 7-2 vote in 1973, with three of the four Nixon nominees (Burger, Lewis F. Powell, and Harry A. Blackmun) in the majority. Only Rehnquist, joined by Byron R. White, appointed by John F. Kennedy, dissented.
Through all these years--from the 1950s through the 1970s-the conservatives on the Court like White and Potter Stewart did not differ greatly from their liberal colleagues. The conservatives were less willing to second-guess the work of police officers and to reverse criminal convictions; they were more willing to limit remedies for past racial discrimination; they deferred somewhat more to elected officials about how to organize and run the government. But on the big legal questions, the war was over, and the liberals had won. And their victories went beyond the judgments of the Supreme Court. The Wa
Jeffrey Toobin is a staff writer at The New Yorker, senior legal analyst at CNN, and the
Drawing on exclusive interviews with the Supreme Court justices and other insiders, a behind-the-scenes look at the powerful, often secretive world of the Supreme Court offers profiles of each justice and how their individual styles affect the way in which they wield their power and discusses how the Court operates, the recent appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, and the Court's influence on American life. Reprint. 250,000 first printing.
In The Nine, acclaimed journalist Jeffrey Toobin takes us into the chambers of the most important—and secret—legal body in our country, the Supreme Court, revealing the complex dynamic among the nine people who decide the law of the land. An institution at a moment of transition, the Court now stands at a crucial point, with major changes in store on such issues as abortion, civil rights, and church-state relations. Based on exclusive interviews with the justices and with a keen sense of the Court’s history and the trajectory of its future, Jeffrey Toobin creates in The Nine a riveting story of one of the most important forces in American life today.
About the Author
Jeffrey Toobin is the author of such bestsellers as Too Close to Call, A Vast Conspiracy, and The Run of His Life. He lives with his family in New York City.
Table of Contents
Prologue: The steps — Part one. The Federalist war of ideas — Good versus evil — Questions presented — Collision course — Big heart — Exiles return? — What shall be orthodox — Writing separately — Cards to the left — The year of the rout — Part two. To the brink — Over the brink — Perfectly clear — Part three. "A particular sexual act" — "A law-profession culture" — Before speaking, saying something — The green brief — "Our executive doesn't" — "A great privilege, indeed" — Part four. "'G' is for God — Retiring the trophy — "I know her heart" — Dinner at the Just Desserts Caf
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