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Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  674 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 23rd 2007 by Penguin Press HC, The
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Community Reviews

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It was a supreme challenge to rate and review this book But ultimately I settled on 4 stars because I learned so much about constitutional law, the supreme court and the politics surrounding it. Another tell tale sign that a book is of superior quality for me is how much I find myself thinking about it throughout the day, how much time I spend talking to Spencer about it and if it has the rare ability to change the way think about a certain subject. I found myself constantly wondering if it is t ...more
I know a book is good when I can't wait to tell Butch every detail of what I just read. It didn't make for amorous pillow talk, but even my "how could anyone be a lawyer?" husband was interested in the behind-the-scenes details of recent Supreme Court nominations & controversial decisions.

The book is fair-handed and well-written; yet, it's still not for everyone. If you've never been a lawyer, couldn't care less about constitutional law, or prefer talking about something romantic before goi
Howard Olsen
I have been carrying a torch for Jan Crawford Greenberg ever since she started appearing on MacNeil-Lehrer to do Supreme Court commentary. She's now hit the big time, both as an ABC legal correspondent and the author of this book, but my dedication remains undimmed. This is an illuminating story about how justices are nominated and confirmed to the Court in the modern era, where a once perfunctory "advice & consent" by the Senate has turned into an unedifying spectacle. JCG also follows just ...more
J. Bishop
Aug 02, 2007 J. Bishop rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Supreme Court and inside politics buffs
This book was a guilty pleasure. Greenburg does an excellent job in reviewing the recent history of Republican nominations to the Supreme Court. In a quick and easy read, she explains how the botched nomination of Robert Bork and the subsequent disappointments that were Anthony Kennedy and David Souter led the conservative base to demand more of George W. Bush when it came time to replace William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O'Connor.

Her backroom access is quite impressive and shines through in the
Graduate School: "Thank you for all of your money, Matt!"
Matt: "Hey, no problem, graduate school- as we all know, an education is the most important thing in life even if I needed to sell my family into indentured slavery to pay for the classes and insurance and parking!"
GS: "And books! Don't forget the books!"
Matt: "Ahh yes, books! The very fabric of our civilization! I sure hope these aren't those cheap, easy to find books that I can buy on"
GS: "OF COURSE NOT! Your one absolutely 1
Frank Stein

This book provides an unparalleled inside look at conservatives' 30 year effort to reshape the Supreme Court, and their surprising failure at the enterprise.

Greenburg obviously got access to all the major attorneys in the Reagan and Bush I and II White Houses who had a piece in picking and vetting Supreme Court nominees, and shows how time and again they failed in attempts to push staunch conservatives onto the court and push the court to the right. Reagan's promise to nominate a woman led him t
Andrew Georgiadis

Greenburg has a bestseller here, and it connects the dots from every Supreme Court appointment (and most nominations) in their dithering detail all stretching from Reagan's meticulous appointments of O'Connor, Scalia, and Kennedy (and the tapping of Rehnquist to Chief Justiceship) all the way to our latter day Bush and his know-nothing insistence on Harriet Miers. There is much to love and enthrall here, but there are many notable slants, perhaps revealing the author's political ideas,
I hesitated to give this book 4 stars because it is not particularly eloquent, nor is it a showcase of creativity and new ideas. But in the end, I think it deserves 4 because it is groundbreaking in one important respect: it is a stunningly evenhanded study of a subject that rarely, if ever, receives such treatment. This is all the more shocking given the author's mainstream media credentials. She is a correspondent for ABC News.

This book is what a Bob Woodard book should be, but never is: full
I'm giving this three stars, because honestly I'm not sure I was smart enough to read this. I felt like a lot of it was over my head, but there were some really interesting parts. The big take-away from this book for me was looking at this group of people who should be among the brightest, most educated, decisive and accomplished people in the world and realizing that they, for the most part, are still pretty heavily influenced by the Media and public opinion. It's a sobering thought for anyone ...more
Of the recent spate of "Inside the Supreme Court" books this is head-and-shoulders above the rest. You can read about this books other virtues elsewhere, but I'd like to highlight one thing that really distinguishes it from the pack. Namely, Greenburg actually seems to understand "conservative" legal ideas (i.e. Textualism, Originalism, etc.), which is more than can be said for other writers about the Supreme Court (see: Jeffrey Toobin), and as such is able to give a balanced account of recent h ...more
This is a very well researched and balanced account of the inner workings of the current Supreme Court. Anyone who is interested in the dynamics of the justices and how each interpret constitutional law will be intrigued by this book. The author does a particularly good job of showing how each U.S. President who has had the opportunity to appoint a justice is not always successful in placing justices who share the President's vision or philosophy on the issues.
Jun 23, 2008 Liz rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Susan
Recommended to Liz by: Joy
Shelves: finished
"Supremely" interesting to anyone who has ever taken an Constitutional Law class, or is just nerdily interested in the Supreme Court. Probably not all that interesting to a reader who has never read many Supreme Court opinions. The author glosses over the justices opinions and dissents rather quickly and the context of having read the opinions discussed helped immensely.
Dan Dundon
I was somewhat disappointed by Jan Crawford Greenburg's "Supreme Conflict" although I will admit it was excellently researched and written in a style that was easily comprehended.

My biggest reservation was the differing manner in which the author treated different Supreme Court candidates. In the first part of the book, the author discusses the problems encountered by Ronald Reagan with the Robert Bork and Douglas Ginsburg appointments before the administration "settled" on Justice Anthony Kenn
May 18, 2010 Matthew rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Matthew by: CU Law School Summer Reading List
Shelves: law
This book was captivating and way more pleasing than I had expected. It was on a list of suggested summer reading that CU thought would get students thinking about law. I decided that as Obama was getting ready to present his second Supreme Court nominee, this book would give me some good insights into the process. I was not mistaken.
Jan Crawford Greenburg writes about the confirmation processes of every judge since Rehnquist and O'Conner up through Roberts and Alito as if she was there at every
Feb 15, 2008 Adam rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Political and Judicial Buffs
Supreme Conflict is one journalist's look at the way the court has taken shape over the course of the past two decades. Drawing on first hand interviews with government officials and the justices themselves, Greenburg follows the political narrative surrounding the court since Sandra Day O'Connor was appointed by Reagan. A very interesting read, though there wasn't a great deal of new information presented. Republican presidents appoint strict constructionists and democratic presidents appoint j ...more
Jan 02, 2008 David rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lawyers/Politics people
Jan Crawford Greenburg's new book Supreme Conflict has to be one of the best reviewed books in recent memory. Reviewers everywhere praise its judiciousness, its revelations and its account of the battle over the Supreme Court. Those reviewers are right.
Even if you don't know much about the Supreme Court, her book introduces you to it and explains why people get so excited when there is a new nominee to the Court. Several times throughout the book, she expounds on the expression that with each n
May 27, 2013 David rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: political junkies, supreme court enthusiasts
While a President's time in office is limited to 8 years, they can influence key decisions long after they leave the White House by carefully nominating Supreme Court Justices (who serve life-terms). As the Supreme Court's power to decide on issues has greatly expanded over the past century, just who sits on the Supreme Court has become a much greater concern in politics. After the President nominates a Supreme Court Justice, the Senate must confirm the nomination by a majority vote. But before ...more
Jared Della Rocca
Final disjointed thoughts: The book was definitely an interesting look at the arrival stories of the current justices. But the last few pages were almost a gushing giddiness over Bush's picks of Roberts and Alito and the change of direction of the court. If you read the book purely as non-fiction with little interest in the winds of politics, then you will enjoy this book. But if you have a deeper involvement, you may be off-put by the characterizations and seeming biases of the author.

When John Roberts went to the Vice President’s residence to be interviewed for the Supreme Court, he arrived 45 minutes early, so he sat and waited in his car. When it was time, Roberts was ushered into a study outside a conference room. While waiting for the VP, he read through every title on the bookshelves in the small room and noticed that most of the books were about trout fishing.

It's the kind of anecdote that's sprinkled throughout Crawford’s book and makes it so fun to read. We learn tha
Gary Christensen
This book is a good read but disappointing in the end. There are some charming stories about vetting justices, the hazards of the process, and it puts a rosier glow on some truly awful screw ups like the Harriet Miers nomination. The Bushs come off better than they should. As does Thomas. So, I think it's done a disservice to the topic, even though its entertaining. Can these things be passed over so lightly?I don't think so.

As I read, I wondered "how did the author get so many interesting but
Bookmarks Magazine

In Supreme Conflict, ABC News legal correspondent Jan Crawford Greenburg examines our judicial branch's highest court, parlaying her all-access pass into an analysis that reveals one of the most volatile periods in the Court's history. Greenburg moves the story along with engaging prose and salts the book with little-known details and anecdotes, though critics wonder if the author's unprecedented access might have come at the cost of revealing even deeper truths about the book's subjects. Jack R

My conservative friend Binu lent me this book. It is no "The Brethren" but it does provide a good deal of insightful information on the Presidential nomination of SCOTUS Justices dating back to O'Connor.

At times the book appeared to be a group of essays, all written at different times, and then thrown together into a book without much effort put into editing.

This is just a personal note, but I did not enjoy her characterization of two important employment law cases as "minor" and "simple." Nei
Very interesting and an easy to read book. Learned a lot about the politics surrounding the SCOTUS. Docked it a star because I felt she gave a certain characteristic to each judge and then stuck with that the entirety of the book. Which made this book seem longer than it really was. But no more because I did learn quite a bit. What did I learn? Scalia's opinions are "captivating." (LIterally laughed out loud when I read that one). Byron White was some liberal jock. O'Connor was a mother hen. Rob ...more
How much do you know about the Supreme Court? How many justices can you name? If the Supreme Court is basically a mystery to you, but you are curious about who the justices really are and how some of the major court decisions were made, then you might really enjoy this book. This inside look has many details, and really lets you get to know the 9 justices, plus some of the past justices. An honest look, it shows they are real people just like us, with varying opinions and thoughts, and even chan ...more
Jeff Ricks
While I actually didn't think the organization of her writing was very good, I really like what she was writing. (I like the what, not the how.) I think it was just a tid-bit jumbled due to her source material being dozens of interviews. Anyway, I really liked this one. It was interesting to see the Supreme Court in so political a light. This is a great book because her interviews with so many of the characters inform the reader about a lot of what was going on internally. I liked getting to kno ...more
I thought this book provided a great look into the politics and personalities of the US Supreme Court. Despite my chosen profession, I rarely get into books about the Supreme Court or law, but I found this book to be a truly interesting read. It was almost gossip-y at points(who knew Sandra Day hated Clarence or loved Rehnquist?), but did more to provide a personality for each Justice than anything I had read before. I wish I had read this before law school - it would have provided some real col ...more
Jan 27, 2009 Lobstergirl rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: David Souter
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Donatella Versace
Shelves: law
How does Jan Crawford Greenburg keep her hair so perfect?

A revisionist study of the Court. Clarence Thomas is way smarter than people think, and he leads Scalia on some decisions rather than the other way around. Who knew? Also, Greenburg doesn't like David Souter.

Strange bit of gossip: When Samuel Alito and his wife Martha-Ann first met, they both happened to be reading John Cheever’s book Falconer, “about a drug-addicted professor who regains his humanity in a grim prison by embarking on a hom
Not bad, but a bit too "texty" for me. Good stories about how all of the Supreme Court justices didn't exactly get along (Sandra Day O'Connor & Clarence Thomas basically hated each other for awhile), while some were lifetime friends (Sandra Day & William Rehnquist).
Talks about how Presidents decided upon Supreme Court nominees was fascinating, and how a Reagon nominee got blindsided in the confirmation meetings (A precurser to the live-televised Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill thing).
Decent r
A pretty good book. Not as good as The Brethren, but it good in its own respects. The Brethren focuses more on the procedures and deliberations of the court and its justices. This book, however, focuses on how certain justices were selected for the court and why. The Brethren is good for the personal notes and dialogue that is included from the justices. This book lacks much of that personal touch, but the insight into the political machinery exercised in selecting the nation's top justices is f ...more
Ryan Mac
Another interesting, well researched and well documented (lots of case cites for Supreme Court dorks like myself) look at the Supreme Court since Reagan. If you have already read The Nine, it covers familiar territory but a nice behind the scenes look at recent nomination/confirmations and a good discussion of judicial philosophies of the justices. Politics + Law + Not too technical makes a good book for anyone interested in the personalities in the Supreme Court.
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