The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America

Front Cover
Macmillan, Jan 9, 2007 - History - 288 pages
2 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.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

The Supreme Court: the personalities and rivalries that defined America

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The components of judicial decision making have been covered extensively in academic journals and books. Here, Rosen uses a historical context to examine the influence of judicial temperament on the ... Read full review

All 2 reviews »

Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
CHAPTER
23
CHAPTER
71
CHAPTER THREE
127
CHAPTER FOUR
177
CONCLUSION
207
CASES CITED
241
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

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.

Bibliographic information