December 16, 2010

The Nine

This is not a high-minded history of the Supreme Court of the United States, but neither is it a trashy tell-all that the generic legal-thriller cover would lead you to believe.  It's somewhere in the middle.  You know those books that start out as popular magazine articles and then get expanded into book form?  This is like that.  Someone at my book club says it felt to him like "just one long piece on NPR by Nina Totenberg."  But I like those NPR Supreme Court pieces!

But yes, sometime is doesn't seem like too much more than a collection of colorful anecdotes about the personalities of the judges.  The meaty stuff comes in  the description of Sandra Day O'Connor's real power.  Despite a Republican-appointment dominance since the Reagan years, the Court has handed down mostly moderate decisions and mostly because of O'Connor.

The book is just as good, but gets upsetting, when it gets to the case popularly known as Bush v. Gore (it was actually Gore v. Harris, but never mind).  Reading about that fiasco again just opened up my ulcer from that time again.  It damaged the reputation of the Court as well as the country and makes it clear that it's not law or theories about the constitution or the place of precedence, but ideology that truly runs the court.

The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court