Rebecca's Reviews > The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court

The Nine by Jeffrey Toobin
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Jun 07, 09

Read in May, 2009

This book is a fascinating introduction to the quirkily glamorous world of the Supreme Court. It drove home the extent to which Sandra Day O'Connor dominated the Court during much of her tenure. I came away impressed with O'Connor's confidence and practicality, but sometimes she seemed to suffer from a shortage of thoughtfulness (most egregiously in Bush v. Gore). I am intrigued by Souter's independence and indifference to convention--there are a couple of priceless anecdotes about him, although they seem like the could be apocryphal.

I was probably most surprised by the parts about Thomas. I was under what Toobin says is the common misimpression that he is sort of Scalia's lackey (this may be due partly to racism, but I think also has to do with the fact that he joined the Court later and seldom speaks from the bench). In fact, according to Toobin, he is well to the *right* of Scalia, which I didn't even realize was possible. I also thought of him as a bitter, brooding man, but apparently he is gregarious and well-loved by his colleagues (although indeed extremely bitter about his confirmation hearings).

Toobin doesn't come out and say whose jurisprudence he respects most and least, but Kennedy's doesn't come off very well. He has a penchant for lofty, meaningless rhetoric, and he doesn't seem to have a coherent philosophy. I wish Toobin had analyzed Ginsburg's, Stevens's, and Souter's juridprudence more extensively. They seem perhaps the most respectable, but then again that may just be because he didn't critize them.

Overall, this was a great read, and highly informative.
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