Thursday, March 15, 2007

Coming to Order: How the Court Really Works

John O. McGinnis (Northwestern's School of Law) reviews two books about the Supreme Court in today's Wall Street Journal.

Jan Crawford Greenburg gives a balanced and insightful account of the court's working, reasoning, and dynamics. According to Professor McGinnis, Greenberg's "Supreme Conflict is by far the most fair-minded portrait of the Supreme Court in a long time." Justice Thomas emerges as much more independent than his legion of critics can imagine.

From Greenberg's narrative, a justice's political skills, the art of persuading colleagues and building intellectual coalitions, emerges as crucially important. Justice Brennan was far more dangerous than Earl Warren for his legendary skill in crafting majorities for his agenda. In picking John Roberts and Samuel Alito, "George W. Bush may have reason, in future years, to say something famously about his two court triumphs."

Benjamin Wittes's Confirmation Wars examines the way judges are nominated and how the confirmation process has become an arena sport.

I was shocked to discover that the elder Bush wanted to nominate Kenneth Starr, but Richard Thornburg killed the proposal.

Two books for spring break!

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