From the prizewinning author of The Nine, a gripping insider's account of the momentous ideological war between the John Roberts Supreme Court and the Obama administration.
From the moment John Roberts, the chief justice of the United States, blundered through the Oath of Office at Barack Obama's inauguration, the relationship between the Supreme Court and the White House has been confrontational. Both men are young, brilliant, charismatic, charming, determined to change the course of the nation - and completely at odds on almost every major constitutional issue. One is radical; one essentially conservative. The surprise is that Obama is the conservative - a believer in incremental change, compromise, and pragmatism over ideology. Roberts - and his allies on the Court - seek to overturn decades of precedent: in short, to undo the ultimate victory FDR achieved in the New Deal.
This ideological war will crescendo during the 2011-2012 term, in which several landmark cases are on the Court's docket - most crucially, a challenge to Obama's controversial health-care legislation. With four new justices joining the Court in just five years, including Obama's appointees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, this is a dramatically - and historically - different Supreme Court, playing for the highest of stakes.
No one is better positioned to chronicle this dramatic tale than Jeffrey Toobin, whose prize-winning best seller The Nine laid bare the inner workings and conflicts of the Court in meticulous and entertaining detail. As the nation prepares to vote for President in 2012, the future of the Supreme Court will also be on the ballot.
©2012 Jeffrey Toobin (P)2012 Random House Audio
I am an avid eclectic reader.
Toobin a lawyer and legal reporter based this book on interviews with the Justices and approximately forty of their law clerks. The book is a narrative of the early years of the Roberts Court which produced a series of 5 to 4 decisions that pitted the Obama administration against the conservative Justices. The book ends with the tie breaking vote to uphold The Affordable Care Act. Toobin reveals the goal of the conservative Justices in rolling back laws on gun rights, abortion, gender discrimination, campaign finance and so on. The Republican Party has controlled the Court since 1953. Toobin looks at how the current makeup of the Court reflects changes in the current Republican party at large, underscoring the fallout created by the departure of the moderate Republican Justices. The most enjoyable part of the book is the human details about the Justices. The book provides a brief biography of each of the justices that has served on the Robert Court. I recently read “The Roberts Court” by Marcia Coyle which covered the same time frame. Coyle went into detail about the cases and the law, Toobin proves more information about the Justice personal life and beliefs than does Coyle. Reading both books provided me with a better understanding of the current court than reading just one of the books. Toobin’s thesis is what he calls the competing visions of Roberts and Obama. Both are intelligent, both products of Chicago, both graduated of Harvard Law School but they have a different view of the meaning of the Constitution. Obama believes the Court should be stable and make gradually changes. Roberts believes in rapid changes to the conservative ideals. I found it interesting that Toobin credits Justice Thomas as the father of the Tea Party. Toobin points out that the Republican Party has made it a priority to put its people into judgeship in all categories of State and Federal courts. Obama has been negligent in appointing Federal Judges. Toobin states a Republican Senator complained “how are we supposed to block appointments if Obama does not appoint them.” Robertson Dean did a good job narrating the book.
I enjoyed the historical details and the interpersonal relationships on the court. My only complaint was that parts felt like a repeat of Toobin's The Nine. Overall I enjoyed it and learned a few things.
Toobin's dislike of the now late Antonin Scalia is clear (and perhaps understandable, especially given the authors own legal background), but the book gives you a thorough look into both the liberal and conservative chambers of the court. Toobin does an admirable job of translating legalese. Robertson Dean's narration is as always great (listen to The Forever War by Dexter Filkins when you start missing his voice).
Highly recommended, especially during the current Supreme Court vacancy.
How often are you entertained and educated at the same time. Riveting expository writing, character development, and fresh writing style. However the chronical of the high jacking of the court by the political right often made me so angry. if my ipod were not so expensive, I would have thrown it out the window. Wonderfully told cautionary tale.
In the top five
A truly gifted writer who tells a fascinating story of the Roberts court and the chief justice's strategic brilliance. Interesting takes on all the sitting justices, and insights as well into Obama's judicial philosophy. There is a noticeable tilt to the left, but Toobin is fair to all and generally balanced. You'll never view the Supreme Court in same way after reading this book.
The US Supreme Court, in a range of crucial matters, is a divided house. Five conservatives judges and four liberals ones dispute constitutional interpretation. The results sometimes seems unpredictable. Jeffrey Toobin, in a continuation of his previous book (The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court), describes the relationship about the Obama administration and the Supreme Court (2010-2013). The nominations of Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Keagan, their backgrounds, the facts leading to some importants decisions (Citizens United and Obama Care) are exposed. Toobin's text is clear and informative. The language is understandable for the non expert and suitable for the law professional.
Great book. The intro read by the author was good and memorable. The narrator for the rest of the book was a little monotone for my taste. When the book stated I didn't think I'd listen to the whole book but the writing and story made up for any other lacking parts.
Great insights and stories into the court. Was fun to hear about the two new Justices since Toobins' last book.
Not as much info on the relationship between the court and Obama as the title suggests. I'd say it's more of a book about the court than of that relationship.
Insight into SCOTUS
I really enjoyed this book's insights into the operation of the Supreme Court and the relationship between the Court and the Executive Branch. The book covers a lot of ground. It gives a bio for each of the current justices. It also covers important cases that have come up during the Obama administration. Further it provides background on case history to explain the history that led to the present day cases. I had never completely understood how the commerce clause in the constitution allowed for so much federal regulation, but this book explains the case that set that precedent where a farmer growing wheat for just his own use was under the jurisdiction of federal farming regulation since the wheat market was an interstate market even though he was not participating in interstate commerce himself. Of course a good portion of the book focuses on the court's decision about Obamacare. The book also explains how the court is in many ways more radical in its shift to being more conservative. The court is the least covered of the 3 branches of government and I found this book really valuable in understanding it.
Tell us about yourself!
Yes if they're into politics.
I think Roberts is the most complex. I wouldn't say favorite.
Linda Williams Standridge
This is the second book I have read by Toobin about the SC. Although I was interested in the subject, I feared a book about this subject by a lawyer would be dull and boring.
To the contrary, Toobin writes in a very compelling style, so one ends up reading this book with the obsession, desperate to know what happens next, of one reading a thriller one cannot put down all night.
I especially love a book where I really have an enjoyable experience and at the same time I have the thrill of learning something new, as well as exciting.
So I highly recommend this book to the every man or woman as a wonderful way to update your knowledge of the current goings on at our Supreme Court, particularly in light of Robert's ruling which found the Affordable Care Act (aka Obama Care) to be Constitutional.
You will also learn a history of theories of law held by various justices going back to Marshall leading to the new, current radical right view of Contextual-ism which has been used by political forces to try to undo Constitutional interpretations that underpin the Square Deal, and especially the New Deal of FDR and further Progressive legislation and SC Rulings of the 20th century, for example, Roe v. Wade, civil and voting rights. This is a radical right court influenced by new Republican conservatism where Republican Presidents have succeeded in getting a majority (hence 5 to 4 rulings) to work toward their agenda. Especially controversial votes by this court were to make George W Bush president in 2000, and in Citizens United to allow unlimited money to be used in campaigns coming from rich, even foreign interests, here because of the growing business desire for Globalization and free, unregulated, non taxed trade to every corner of the world.
Read beautifully by Toobin himself!
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