Shea's Reviews > Becoming Justice Blackmun: Harry Blackmun's Supreme Court Journey

Becoming Justice Blackmun by Linda Greenhouse
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Dec 03, 11

Read from November 24 to December 03, 2011

Wow! Excellent biography of an excellent Supreme Court Justice!

It is quite obvious that author Linda Greenhouse benefited greatly from Harry Blackmun's obsessive note-taking, journaling, and consistent chronicling of his life from a very early age. Greenhouse should be credited for relying heavily on these records in the composition of this biography as they offer the most accurate depiction one could hope for in a book written after the fact. One of the factors I appreciated most is how "the" voice of Roe v. Wade was actually portrayed not as the fierce advocate for women's rights and reproductive rights that many assume he was at the time of this opinion, but as a more tempered jurist examining the rights of doctors and medical practitioners to not be arrested and prosecuted for performing abortions (read the actual opinion; it's in there). It was certainly a position he evolved toward later on, but I appreciate the accuracy in Greenhouse's description of what Blackmun was thinking and feeling during the Roe v. Wade decision.

Furthermore, Greenhouse does a great service to Blackmun's memory by treating many of the landmark cases that came to SCOTUS during his years on the court with equitable attention. Blackmun is not just the author of Roe v. Wade. He authored many important opinions and dissents on issues related to capital punishment, sex discrimination, affirmative action, the state's role in protecting its citizens from dangers that can be foreseen, etc.

I loved every second of it. For those who believe this will be a snooze-fest and not interesting, think again. I'm sure it helps to have even a mild fascination with SCOTUS, but there is enough humor and personal reflection (on Blackmun's part) to keep even the least legally minded reader engaged. Fantastic! Five stars!
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Reading Progress

11/24/2011 page 8
3.0%
11/28/2011 page 49
18.0% "Excellent! Really liking it so far!"
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