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The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  15,805 ratings  ·  2,126 reviews
In The Nine, acclaimed journalist Jeffrey Toobin takes us into the chambers of the most important—and secret—legal body in our country, the Supreme Court, revealing the complex dynamic among the nine people who decide the law of the land. An institution at a moment of transition, the Court now stands at a crucial point, with major changes in store on such issues as abortio ...more
Hardcover, 369 pages
Published November 23rd 2007 by Doubleday Books (first published August 23rd 2007)
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Jake The republican party, has never in any realistic sense, been opposed to the expansion of federal power. There is a small libertarian wing who make thi…moreThe republican party, has never in any realistic sense, been opposed to the expansion of federal power. There is a small libertarian wing who make this their key issue, but they are an esoteric obscure wing, who only serious presidential candidate (Goldwater) lost miserably. I assume you ask this due to the existence of this in the news. In my opinion Republicans have been more active in expanding executive power because it is the one of the two branches that they dominate in. Because Americans are worried about their pocket books and being taxed, Republicans have done quite well in recent history in congressional and presidential elections, but more so the presidential elections. As for the courts and the bureaucracy? The centrists and leftists dominate that. That's a huge swath of the government, and they, as Toobin identifies in this book, are scared.


Republicans are willing to limit democrats use of executive power but not their own. It is mere partisan politics. (less)

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Jan 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: young ladies thoughtlessly considering a thankless career in social work
Recommended to Jessica by: david giltinan; ginnie jones; paul glusman
WELL. How I wish I'd had the foresight, at a much younger and more capable age, to consult some kind of career counselor! If only, if ONLY someone back then had the wisdom and charity to inform me of the existence of something called "constitutional law," and advised me to study hard, behave myself, keep my mouth shut, make influential friends, and avoid leaving a drunken trail of scribbled opinions about all my personal and political views as I careened helter-skelter along a haphazard career p ...more
Jan 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It’s certainly not outside of the realm of possibility that I am deluded. Completely and utterly deluded. Nevertheless, I have always held the American judiciary in much greater esteem than either the executive or legislative branches of government for several reasons—but most persuasive among them is my firm belief that the judiciary is the best situated to transcend workaday partisan politics.

Sure, judges are appointed by partisan politicians for partisan reasons. Therefore, they are functions
Sep 24, 2007 rated it it was ok
"This book is based principally on my interviews with the justices and more than seventy-five of their law clerks," author Jeffrey Toobin writes in his notes that close the book. "The interviews were on a not-for-attribution basis -- that is, I could use the information provided but without quoting directly or identifying the source."

If you read the book back-to-front -- like the apocryphal politicos who look for their names in the index before reading a book -- you'll see the problem with this
Sep 21, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Chris Michaud
3.5 stars. This book is really about the political trajectory of the Supreme Court over the past 30 years. Toobin seeks to show a gradual, unlikely shift leftward over the years of the Rehnquist Court (followed by a striking and uncharacteristically - for the institution - speedy swing back to the right since the Roberts and Alito confirmations).

Not exactly a work of rigorous scholarship, so don't read it if you want a primer on important cases (though Toobin does a good job describing, in plain
Dec 30, 2009 rated it liked it
This isn't The Brethren. That should be made clear from the start. Bob Woodward's book on the United State Supreme Court's 1969-75 terms is, in my mind, a classic. I've never read a better, more entertaining, more detailed book on the Supreme Court's inner workings. It also gives a glimpse of an interesting moment in legal history, as the progressive years of the Warren Court ended, and a gradual rightward shift began (despite, rather than because, of the incompetence of Warren Burger).

Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
In law school I had one of the most sadistic, demanding and universally feared professors in the entire school for Constitutional Law, which is probably the most important class in law school. The first day of class he called me an idiot and told me I didn’t know how to read. For the next few weeks of the semester, he regularly berated me for my ignorance and ineptitude (which in retrospect, I fully deserved), but I got off easy (he stopped abusing me after a few weeks once I adapted my schoolwo ...more
Jul 30, 2008 rated it it was ok
The author discusses the Court from about 1980 to 2007. He wants to show how politics influences the rulings of the Court, but while reading the book I was struck by the degree to which politics had influenced his writing. He wears his bias on his sleeve, which makes this book a less than reliable source of Court information. He portrays the justices with whom he disagrees as petty, rude ideologues, while portraying the justices with whom he agrees as compassionate, intelligent, and most importa ...more
Carly Friedman
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book about the history of the members of the Supreme Court, the politics surrounding them, and the major decisions. The only reason this not a five star review is that the author is clearly very liberal and his bias is obvious. As someone who is very liberal, even I know was bothered by this bias at times.

Still, I highly recommend this to anyone interested in the Supreme Court.
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: law
Amazingly detailed and well-researched, I'd be surprised if any account of the Supreme Court could outdo this one (I have two from the library, so we shall see). Better than The Secret Lives of the Supreme Court but also has a different purpose and voice, so it might be unfair to compare them.

Adding to my list of the justices in that review, here's some more fun facts (mostly just for me to keep them straight in my head):

White: nicknamed Whizzer (he hated it). Gruff conservative, but sometimes l
Peggy bill
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
In the past, whenever I have gotten sick or scared about the direction of politics in this country, I have comforted myself with the idea that our governmental balance of power mediates abrupt shifts to the right (I am not worried about abrupt shifts to the left, as the country is generally too far to right already). I didn’t have hope in the Supreme Court, but I did have faith in their moderating effect on law and society.

That was until the presidential election of 2000. I was disgusted by a st
Dec 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
You've got to love book group and you have to doubly love a non-fiction book group. If not for this group of wonderful people I might never have read The Nine. And I meant THE NINE... I'm mediocre when it comes to following our government. I'm not the worse when it comes to current events but I knew my reading group had it all over me. All the more fun as they had the background and could fill in questions that came up.

What I liked about The Nine was the way Jeffrey Toobin gave us snapshots of m
Feb 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
The Nine offers the reader a peek behind the curtains at the latter days of the Rehnquist court. The book is a good combination of pen portraits of the justices combined with explanations of the landmark cases they decided during this time, and often the legal sparring behind those decisions. The centerpiece is the most elucidating account of Bush v. Gore that I've read! This section elevates The Nine to one of the cornerstone books on the Supreme Court. It may feel dated now that many of the Ju ...more
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book sat on my nightstand for about two years. My husband recommended it highly, but I just couldn't dig in--until this week. And then I could hardly put it down. There was so much in this book I wanted and needed to know, and I am walking away from my read of it much better informed, not only about the Supreme Court but about the U.S.A., the balance of powers and tensions to keep those powers balanced, the individual struggles of people who find themselves members of the Supreme Court.... ...more
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Author/ journalist/ attorney Toobin discussed the US
Supreme Court (herefter SCOTUS) & controversial
cases they decided related to race, gender (consensual
sodomy), religion, abortion, war powers, and so much
more. Race cases related mostly to the quality of edu-
cation or college/ grad school (medical or law school)
admission practices.

Most SCOTUS justices did not talk to each other in their
respective offices. They communicated via use of memos.
3 justices: Thomas, Breyer and Stevens felt comf
some editing and additions 7/22/10

Toobin does a great job in detailing the personalities of the justices and how they shape the court. Thomas is the most interesting, perhaps. A man obviously bitter about the cards he has been dealt, he holds grudges seemingly forever, even disdaining Yale Law School, his alma mater; yet, he is very well liked and has lots of friends on and off the court. (Scalia, asked once for the difference between himself and Thomas, replied, "I am an originalist; he's a nut
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I cannot believe I waited to read this book until now. I thought I knew what it was about and that I didn't need this brick in my building of knowledge. I was wrong. This book is exquisite. It is so well written and is such an interesting and important account of US law and politics over the last several decades. A few thoughts:

1. It is amazing how much certain peoples' insecurities and temperaments end up changing the course of history. I am not a believer in the "great man" (or woman) theory
Apr 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Sadly not the trashy gossip fest I was in the mood for. I wanted either another hundred pages discussing the court's role in the political system and propounding a new theory of case analysis, or I wanted some juicy judicial sexploits. Sadly, I got neither. The "revelations" in this book are nothing new if you pay a little attention to the court – Scalia and Ginsburg were besties, Thomas has a bizarre and alarming worldview, etc.

Still, the lay reader would probably enjoy this as a portrait of pe
Jan 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2008
This is an excellent book. Toobin exhibits all the qualities one could want in a guide to the Supreme Court: he is smart, knowledgeable, engaging, witty, and writes clearly and fluidly.

This is a well-organized, well-written book on a fascinating and important subject. Remarkably, it is never dull - parts I found particularly notable were his account of the Court's role in the 2000 election debacle, and his explanation of how Sandra Day O' Connor became the most influential justice on the court.
Dec 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is everything Supreme Court, primarily its members and their decisions on numerous supreme court hearings. It's a fascinating peek behind the headlines and it shows how liberal and conservative views have played out over the years. If you have an interest in the factors that came to play in such decisions, the intellect and even politics, you'll enjoy it.
My education has huge gaps around the area of the Supreme Court so I have been looking at various books to give me some of the information that I need to fill some of those gaps. I'm starting with this one because I have heard good things. I'm really glad that I started here because Jeffrey Toobin does a really good job of giving an overview of the Court as well as bringing the reader up to date on what's been happening for the last 30 years. And it was illuminating ... and a bit frightening. I' ...more
Jul 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Interesting survey of the modern supreme court's history and personalities. The author pretends to write balanced even handed biographical sketches of a number of supreme court justices during the Bush years. He has a hard time veiling his distaste for conservative ideology while praising "moderate" justices like O'Conner for her "diplomatic" and "pragmatic" judicial view. He seems to spend by far more time on her than all the others combined. He believes that she was the most influential justic ...more
Oct 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Jeffrey Toobin’s The Nine is an incredibly well written book. If you’re a follower of the Supreme Court and acquainted with terms like Casey, Lawrence, or Hamdan you won’t be able to put the book down. If these cases are new to you, then you are in for quite an education on the true workings of the third coequal branch of the federal government. One criticism of Toobin’s style is that he doesn’t go into enough detail on the legal reasoning or merits of the cases. The book reads more like a novel ...more
Ira friedman
Oct 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
Toobin's book, as mentioned in some of the other reviews, is highly readable, captivating and contains very good summaries of many of the important Supreme Court cases of the last few decades. Perhaps as important is his ability to write about the Jurist's personalities and their judicial philosophy providing the reader with the thought processes that go to work behind the decision making.

The inner workings and day to day activity of the Court was something I found quite interesting. The Jurist
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this audio book. Well-researched, relatively balanced, and an intimate look at the way the Supreme Court operates. Interesting to consider how this impacts (or doesn't) daily American life. It makes me wonder more about the clerking culture, and certainly will be interesting to see how the next iteration of the court, with Kagan and Sotomayor, will change the dynamics. The court will never be a microcosm of society, its functions and functionaries will always be part of our most ...more
Sep 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
This wasn't what I thought it was going to be; rather than some sweeping history of the Supreme Court, the author opts for an in-depth telling of the slice of time where the Rehnquist court became the Roberts court. Probably a wise choice, and you get the sense that, by telling the story of this court and several appointments, you have pretty much heard most of the history, in some sense.

I probably shouldn't have been reading this at the same time as Keith Richards' autobiography since there wer
Jan 22, 2014 rated it liked it
I guess I was expecting this to be more journalistic and less dramatic. While very interesting and well written you cannot say that this is an objective view of the Supreme Court, its members, or its role in our government. Written during the George W. Bush presidency, with hindsight it is humorous that the author was so concerned that the SCOTUS was becoming too conservative - ha!
Debbie "DJ"
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Really well written. Not at all dry or boring, really gave me a look into our Supreme Court. This book was written in 2007, so two of the justices have changed, but still an awesome read. The different personalities, and cases, shed so much light on the inner workings of our highest court.
I remember only two things about listening, at the end of 2008, to this incredible book, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court . Well, maybe three things. One is that it introduced me to the author, Jeffrey Toobin, whom I've paid attention to ever since. Second is that I was surprised how much I enjoyed it, learning so much about the Supreme Court, the decisions, the arguments, the direction of liberal to conservative and so much more. Of course, much of what I learned is lost t ...more
Actual Rating: 4.5 ish

I'm really questioning whether I should round to 4 or 5 stars, but since I don't tend to read (or, more importantly, enjoy) nonfiction books as much, I'm rounding up. For a book that could have easily been very dry, I found it to be really readable, while still very informative. I actually wish I'd read it earlier, before some of my law classes, 'cause I think having this context would have been really useful!

My only qualm would be that it could get a bit repetitive at tim
Mitch Rogers
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When rating a book, there is a difficulty distinguishing between the execution of the writing and the book's appeal to the reader's personal tastes. Toobin is readable, that's for sure. The execution is close to flawless. The legal minutiae is lucid, easy to follow, and often more entertaining than one would imagine.

The book is generally even-handed, but a dutiful parsing of the language shows the author's leanings. At times, particularly in the new afterward, you can tell that Toobin is a libe
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Lawyer, author, legal correspondent for CNN and The New Yorker magazine.

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