Closed chambers: the first eyewitness account of the epic struggles inside the Supreme Court

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Times Books, Mar 31, 1998 - Law - 576 pages
2 Reviews
The Supreme Court of the United States is the most powerful court in the world. It is also the branch of our government most shrouded in mystery, misunderstanding, and myth.. Isolated in a marble temple, supposedly insulated from the pressures of politics, nine unelected Justices are charged with protecting our most cherished rights and shaping our fundamental laws. They are assisted by roughly thirty-six law clerks each year, the best and brightest of the nation's young lawyers, who routinely go on to fill the highest ranks of our government, courts, law schools, and law firms. Never before has one of these clerks stepped forward to reveal how the Court really works--and why it often fails the country and the cause of justice. In this groundbreaking book, award-winning historian Edward Lazarus, a former clerk to Justice Harry A. Blackmun, guides the reader through the Court's inner sanctum, explaining as only an eyewitness can the collisions of law, politics, and personality as the Justices wrestle with the most fiercely disputed issues of our time. Part memoir, past history, and all spellbinding narrative, Closed Chambers provides an intimate portrait and devastating critique--Justice by Justice--of a court at war with itself and in neglect of its constitutional duties. From the conservative Chief Justice Rehnquist's apparent attempt to influence the 1992 election by delaying a crucial abortion case to liberal champion Justice William Brennan's ill-conceived and ultimately self-defeating campaign to sabotage the death penalty, Lazarus's riveting account shows us a Court broken into scheming factions whose members resort to crass political calculations and transparently hypocritical arguments as they discard legal principles for bottomline results. The Justices further compound this cliquish antagonism by granting excessive power to immature, ideologically driven clerks, who then use that power to manipulate their bosses and the institution they ostensibly serve. Edward Lazarus took part in the Court's internal battles over the death penalty, affirmative action, abortion, and other momentous issues. Here, he weaves together past and present to show us in astonishing detail not only the tragic failings of the modern Court, but also what led to them, and why they are so devastating for the nation. Unprecedented in its revelations and unparalleled in the brilliance of its analysis, Closed Chambers is the most important book on the Supreme Court in a generation.

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User Review  - aevaughn - LibraryThing

This books really got me to thinking. It does give you a good feeling for what went on during the Burger and Rehnquist courts. It mostly consists of a series of chapters on different topics and how ... Read full review

Closed chambers: the first eyewitness account of the epic struggles inside the Supreme Court

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Part memoir, part constitutional history, this volume by a former law clerk to Justice Harry Blackmun reflects both his own experience at the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1988-89 term and substantial and ... Read full review

Contents

The Highest Court in the Land
3
A Clerks Eye View
17
The Grand Canyon
47
Copyright

21 other sections not shown

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About the author (1998)

Edward Lazarus served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun from 1988 to 1989.  He is also the author of Black Hills/White Justice, which the Harvard Law Review praised as "meticulously researched and eloquently written."  Lazarus has contributed to such publications as The Atlantic, U.S. News & World Report, and the Los Angeles Times.  He is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, and currently works as a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles.