Sally's Reviews > Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices

Scorpions by Noah Feldman
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Feb 28, 11

bookshelves: historical, politics
Recommended for: Anyone with an interest in American politics and history
Read from February 20 to 28, 2011

What makes a Supreme Court justice great? Is it the cases they work on? The decisions the Court makes? The individual writings? Their character?

Feldman's book is a staggering read. It clocks in at 430 pages, with an additional 60 pages of notes. It requires concentration to go through the pages of biography and decision-making. At times, what I read was astounding. While these four men and the 'Roosevelt Court' has influenced the Supreme Court of today, I'm not sure they made for good role models.

During my read, I concluded that these four were power-grabbing, narcissistic, and back-stabbing. They came together because of an equally power hungry politician, but their views split them more than once. Friendships were formed and then disolved into bitterness. Only once did they ever come together to concur in an opinion, for Brown v Board of Education, and even then it was under duress.

FDR is one of history's most liberal Presidents, and the justices he appointed to the Supreme Court reflected that. Not that FDR was an exception; Presidents tend to name justices who see the world in a similar manner. As a result, I wasn't sure which way the book would lean. Would it be a glory fest or a strong criticism? Feldman has written a remarkably balanced analysis, both criticizing and commending. More than once he explains both the good and bad of a decision, emphasizing fact rather than his personal opinion.

Ultimately, this is one of those books to be read more than once. I borrowed my copy from the library, and had to resist the urge to highlight sections of it with a yellow marker. It goes back to the library intact, but I will be looking to purchase my own copy of it.
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Reading Progress

02/20/2011 page 14
3.0%
02/25/2011 page 312
59.0% "This book could probably also have been called, "Backstabbing hypocrites," because that's the impression I'm getting."
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Ms.pegasus I had to turn to my computer and make copious notes. I also found that a chronology of the key cases discussed (gleaned from Wikipedia, with the "scorecard" helped reinforce my overwhelmed memory.


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