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

Becoming Justice Blackmun by Linda Greenhouse
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Sep 14, 08

bookshelves: life-stories, non-fiction, historical
Read in August, 2008

Ever since I told my aunt, who got her JD in '04, that I plan to go to law school, she's started giving me books about the Supreme Court after she finishes with them. "You're interested in this," she'll say, and it is not a question. "Becoming Justice Blackmun" was genuinely fascinating. Written by a woman who's been covering the Supreme Court for the New York Times for something like 20 years, she almost exclusively used Blackmun's copious archives of personal correspondence and dictated biography as sources. We see his close friendship and subsequent falling out with chief justice Brennan, as well as Blackmun's apparent shift to the left during the last decade or so of his tenure. This last part particularly interested me, because his decision-making process did not change at all. The tone of the court changed as Regan and Bush I appointees came in, and the length of time Blackmun had served allowed him to see instances where the law had not had its desired affects to bring equality to people of color and women.

"I asked if there was any preparation I had to do," Blackmun wrote in an unpublished memoir of his nomination that he dictated for his files later that year. "He said no and that it only concerned the Supreme Court and whether I was willing to accept a nomination to the court. I observed that perhaps this was something that one did not turn down."
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