Jul 12, 10
Read from May 18 to July 11, 2010
Almost 4 stars, really good, surprisingly easy to read. The author is a magna cum laude Harvard Law graduate himself, and writes very well, often with the pace and flair of a novelist. The same nine justices served together from 1994-2005, the longest such uninterrupted stretch, and this is basically their story (stories). I had a lot of misconceptions going into this book: I assumed the justices were close to apolitical (wrong, they are highly political, with far more extreme conservatives and liberals than true moderates - and they do not try to hide it). I also assumed the book would be dry and would focus mostly on cases, wrong again, it was juicy and delved repeatedly into the justices' personal lives, especially that of Sandra Day O'Connor. (O'Connor would emerge as the protagnonist if this were a novel, with Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Anton Scalia as antagonists). Important cases are discussed; it is shocking to me how easily precedent (stare decisis) can be thrown out the window as new Justices come on board, and somewhat disappointing that even these vaunted figures (seemingly) hew to their politics all too often (or to those of the presidents that appoint them). But the author reminds us that the framers of the Constitution knew that would happen, and ultimately gave "we the people" the power to choose our judicial fate...albiet in the form of presidential elections.