Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Reflections: The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court

Adam C. Zern offers his thoughts on Jeffrey Toobin's The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court:

"It probably is true that average citizens know the least about the Supreme Court than any other branch of the federal government, and most probably do not understand the far-reaching impact the Supreme Court's decisions can have on individual liberty, the scope and power of government, and subsequently on everyday life.  Jeffrey Toobin's The Nine does an adequate job in providing enlightening evidence regarding how much the Supreme Court can affect our lives, the flawed people who make up the Court, and the political and ideological conflicts that surround the Court.  However, the book also has some significant faults that make it more mediocre than I hoped.

To begin with, the subtext of the book—'Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court'—is partly true.  You are given an internal glance at how the Court functions, how individuals are nominated for the Court, confirmed, and how they interact on the Court; yet, the book's true focus is on what the author classifies as the Conservative ‘counter-revolution' as well as what the author has determined as being Conservative's machinations to control the Court.  He also spends a great deal of time expounding on the Conservative justices' supposed judicial activism.  I wanted a more hardline historical account of the Court, even if it only dealt with the last several decades, instead of the somewhat shrouded commentary provided by Toobin.  He quite flippantly throws around terms like extremism, nativism, liberal, and the all-important term of moderate to explain the views of various justices, and I believe those terms are painfully deficient to express the many nuances of a justice's opinion.

Having said that, the book is cleanly written.  Rarely does the writing feel clunky or difficult.  Also, I was very eager to continue to read the book and found the historical anecdotes (hopefully accurate) regarding the personalities and relationships connected with the Court as interesting as any other historical accounts I've read. 

I do feel I received a greater understanding of the Supreme Court, but I also feel compelled to find less commentary-driven books on the subject.  In the final analysis, I liked The Nine.  It will more than likely serve as a springboard for a greater personal exploration of the 'secret world' of the Supreme Court."

No comments:

Post a Comment