Jim Talbott's Reviews > Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir

Five Chiefs by John Paul Stevens
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's review
Oct 17, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: non-fiction, male-author
Read in October, 2011

I gave this book a much better rating than most other readers, so I feel like I should explain why. 1. I'm a total Supreme Court gossip junky, and this has lots of little details about the justices and their spouses. 2. People want this book to be like Toobin's "The Nine," but I like that when you're reading Stevens, you know he's making himself look good because he wrote it. Whereas in Toobin's book, the people who agreed to divulge dirt on other justices got to look good, but you really had to read between the lines to figure that out. 3. Stevens goes out of his way to describe an ideal of jurisprudence in which concern for the institution of law, which includes justices being constrained by stare decisis, overrides personal ideology and a vision of the court in which collegiality continues in the face of deep ideological differences. He quite clearly understands that certain aspects of the court provide a type of theater that is meant to strengthen our faith in our legal institutions. Though that faith may appear quaint in this era of people on the right and left having lost faith in our public institutions, I strongly agree with Justice Stevens that it is a faith worth aspiring to and fortifying.
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