The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America

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Macmillan, Jan 9, 2007 - History - 274 pages
25 Reviews
A leading Supreme Court expert recounts the personal and philosophical rivalries that forged our nation's highest court and continue to shape our daily lives
The Supreme Court is the most mysterious branch of government, and yet the Court is at root a human institution, made up of very bright people with very strong egos, for whom political and judicial conflicts often become personal.
In this compelling work of character-driven history, Jeffrey Rosen recounts the history of the Court through the personal and philosophical rivalries on the bench that transformed the law--and by extension, our lives. The story begins with the great Chief Justice John Marshall and President Thomas Jefferson, cousins from the Virginia elite whose differing visions of America set the tone for the Court's first hundred years. The tale continues after the Civil War with Justices John Marshall Harlan and Oliver Wendell Holmes, who clashed over the limits of majority rule. Rosen then examines the Warren Court era through the lens of the liberal icons Hugo Black and William O. Douglas, for whom personality loomed larger than ideology. He concludes with a pairing from our own era, the conservatives William H. Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia, only one of whom was able to build majorities in support of his views.
Through these four rivalries, Rosen brings to life the perennial conflict that has animated the Court--between those justices guided by strong ideology and those who forge coalitions and adjust to new realities. He illuminates the relationship between judicial temperament and judicial success or failure. The stakes are nothing less than the future of American jurisprudence.
  

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Review: The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America

User Review  - Steven Yenzer - Goodreads

Pretty enjoyable read about some of the famous figures of the Supreme Court. A nice look behind the scenes, and easy-to-read introduction to some of the finer points of Court-watching. Read full review

Review: The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America

User Review  - Johnp - Goodreads

I am *not* a big fan of Supreme Court books. I know it sounds silly, but the focus is always on the court cases and less on the personal side. This book is different. A companion to the PBS series on ... Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION A QUESTION OF TEMPERAMENT
1
CHAPTER ONE THE VIRGINIA ARISTOCRATS
23
CHAPTER TWO THE LEGACY OF THE CIVIL WAR
71
CHAPTER THREE LIBERTY AND LICENSE
127
CHAPTER FOUR TWO FACES OF CONSERVATISM
177
CONCLUSION THE FUTURE OF TEMPERAMENT
221
CASES CITED
241
NOTES
245
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
259
ILLUSTRATION CREDITS
263
INDEX
265
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

Jeffrey Rosen is a professor of law at George Washington University and the legal affairs editor of The New Republic. He is the author of The Most Democratic Branch, The Naked Crowd, and The Unwanted Gaze. His articles have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New Yorker. He is a frequent contributor to National Public Radio and lives in Washington, D.C.

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