The Supreme Court by Jeffrey Rosen
The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America

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A leading Supreme Court expert recounts the personal and philosophical rivalries that forged our nation's highest court and continue to shape our daily lives

The Supreme Court is the most mysterious branch of government, and yet the Court is at root a human institution, made up of very bright people with very strong egos, for whom political and judicial conflicts often become personal.

In this compelling work of character-driven history, Jeffrey Rosen recounts the history of the Court through the personal and philosophical rivalries on the bench that transformed the law--and by extension, our lives. The story begins with the great Chief Justice John Marshall and President Thomas Jefferson, cousins from the Virginia elite whose differing visions of America set the tone for the Court's first hundred years. The tale continues after the Civil War with Justices John Marshall Harlan and Oliver Wendell Holmes, who clashed over the limits of majority rule. Rosen then examines the Warren Court era through the lens of the liberal icons Hugo Black and William O. Douglas, for whom personality loomed larger than ideology. He concludes with a pairing from our own era, the conservatives William H. Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia, only one of whom was able to build majorities in support of his views.

Through these four rivalries, Rosen brings to life the perennial conflict that has animated the Court--between those justices guided by strong ideology and those who forge coalitions and adjust to new realities. He illuminates the relationship between judicial temperament and judicial success or failure. The stakes are nothing less than the future of American jurisprudence.


About Jeffrey Rosen

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Jeffrey Rosen is a professor of law at George Washington University and the legal affairs editor of The New Republic. He is the author of The Most Democratic Branch, The Naked Crowd, and The Unwanted Gaze. His articles have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New Yorker. He is a frequent contributor to National Public Radio and lives in Washington, D.C.
Published January 9, 2007 by Times Books. 288 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Law & Philosophy, Biographies & Memoirs, Professional & Technical, Business & Economics. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Supreme Court

Publishers Weekly

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In his second book this year (after The Most Democratic Branch ), Rosen examines how temperament and personal style shape decision making at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Oct 09 2006 | Read Full Review of The Supreme Court: The Person...

Book Reporter

THE SUPREME COURT: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America, by Jeffrey Rosen, is a companion book to an important four-hour television series on the Supreme Court produced by WNET in New York.

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of The Supreme Court: The Person...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

New Yorker scribe and CNN legal analyst Toobin interviewed all the Justices during the early months of the Roberts court (and the end of Sandra Day O’Connor’s tenure).

Apr 19 2010 | Read Full Review of The Supreme Court: The Person...

The Wall Street Journal

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We thought we’d Tivo the Supremes show, but now we’re not so sure after reading this blistering New York Times review by Virginia Heffernan, one of our favorite writers.

Jan 31 2007 | Read Full Review of The Supreme Court: The Person...

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