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Acclaimed journalist Jeffrey Toobin takes us into the chambers of the most important—and secret—legal body in our country, the Supreme Court, revealing the complex dynamic among the nine people who decide the law of the land. An institution at a moment of transition, the Court now stands at a crucial point, with major changes in store on such issues as abortion, civil rights, and church-state relations. Based on exclusive interviews with the justices and with a keen sense of the Court’s history and the trajectory of its future, Jeffrey Toobin creates in The Nine a riveting story of one of the most important forces in American life today.

Review

“Compelling. . . . Driven by the author''s assured narrative voice, The Nine is as informative as it is fascinating, as insightful as it is readable.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times“Smart and entertaining. . . . The Nine is engaging, erudite, candid, and accessible, often hard to put down. Toobin is a natural storyteller, and the stories he tells are gripping.”— The New York Times Book Review“Toobin’s sparkling new work is anecdotally rich and clearly written. . . . A testimony to [his] skill.” — USA Today“Intelligent and even-handed. . . . Toobin’s access to the Supremes and their secret little world is phenomenal.”— Chicago Sun-TimesThe Nine not only provides a vivid narrative history of the Court''s recent history, but also gives the reader an intimate look at individual justices, showing how personality, judicial philosophy and personal alliances can inform decisions that have huge consequences for the entire country. . . . Driven by the author''s assured narrative voice, The Nine is as informative as it is fascinating, as insightful as it is readable.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times“Every decade or so, an enterprising and intelligent outsider like Toobin can come along and shine a muchneeded spotlight on the place. . . . The Nine is engaging, erudite, candid and accessible, often hard to put down. Toobin is a natural storyteller, and the stories he tells are gripping. . . . [He] writes about the court more fluidly and fluently than anyone.”—David Margolick, The New York Times Book ReviewThe Nine is the latest, and by far the best [book] . . . about the Supreme Court.” —Nina Totenberg, NPR“This is a remarkable, riveting book. So great are Toobin''s narrative skills that both the justices and their inner world are brought vividly to life.”—Doris Kearns Goodwin“[An] absorbing group profile. . . . [Toobin] deftly distills the issues and enlivens his narrative of the Court''s internal wranglings with sharp thumbnail sketches”— Publishers Weekly“A compelling look at the power and the politics behind the Supreme Court.” — Booklist“A major achievement, lucid and probing.”—Bob Woodward

About the Author

Jeffrey Toobin is a staff writer at The New Yorker, senior legal analyst at CNN, and the authors of such best-sellers as Too Close to Call: The Thirty-Six Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election, A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal that Nearly Brought Down a President, and The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1
THE FEDERALIST
WAR OF IDEAS


For a long time, during the middle of the twentieth century, it wasn''t even clear what it meant to be a judicial conservative. Then, with great suddenness, during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, judges and lawyers on the right found a voice and an agenda. Their goals reflected and reinforced the political goals of the conservative wing of the Republican Party.

Earl Warren, who served as chief justice of the United States from 1953 to 1969, exerted a powerful and lasting influence over American law. The former California governor, who was appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower, put the fight against state-sponsored racism at the heart of his agenda. Starting in 1954, with Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed segregation in public education, the justices began more than a dozen years of sustained, and usually unanimous, pressure against the forces of official segregation. Within the legal profession in particular, Warren''s record on civil rights gave him tremendous moral authority. Warren and his colleagues, especially William J. Brennan Jr., his close friend and strategist, used that capital to push the law in more liberal directions in countless other areas as well. On freedom of speech, on the rights of criminal suspects, on the emerging field of privacy, the Warren Court transformed American law.

To be sure, Warren faced opposition, but many of his Court''s decisions quickly worked their way into the permanent substructure of American law. New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, which protected newspapers that published controversial speech; Miranda v. Arizona, which established new rules for interrogating criminal suspects; even Griswold v. Connecticut, which announced a right of married people to buy birth control, under the broader heading of privacy–all these cases, along with the Warren Court''s many pronouncements on race, became unassailable precedents.

Richard M. Nixon won the presidency in part by promising to rein in the liberalism of the Court, but even though he had the good fortune to name four justices in three years, the law itself wound up little changed. Under Warren E. Burger, whom Nixon named to succeed Warren, the Court in some respects became more liberal than ever. It was under Burger that the court approved the use of school busing, expanded free speech well beyond Sullivan, forced Nixon himself to turn over the Watergate tapes, and even, for a time, ended all executions in the United States. Roe v. Wade, the abortion rights decision that still defines judicial liberalism, passed by a 7-2 vote in 1973, with three of the four Nixon nominees (Burger, Lewis F. Powell, and Harry A. Blackmun) in the majority. Only Rehnquist, joined by Byron R. White, appointed by John F. Kennedy, dissented.

Through all these years--from the 1950s through the 1970s–the conservatives on the Court like White and Potter Stewart did not differ greatly from their liberal colleagues. The conservatives were less willing to second-guess the work of police officers and to reverse criminal convictions; they were more willing to limit remedies for past racial discrimination; they deferred somewhat more to elected officials about how to organize and run the government. But on the big legal questions, the war was over, and the liberals had won. And their victories went  beyond the judgments of the Supreme Court. The Warren Court transformed virtually the entire legal culture, especially law schools.

***

It was not surprising, then, that on the day after Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter in 1980, Yale Law School went into mourning. On that day, Steven Calabresi''s torts professor canceled class to talk about what was happening in the country. The mood in the room was one of bewilderment and hurt. At the end, the teacher asked for a show of hands among the ninety first-year students before him. How many had voted for Carter and how many for Reagan? Only Calabresi and one other student had supported the Republican.

The informal poll revealed a larger truth about law schools at the time. Most professors at these institutions were liberal, a fact that reflected changes that had taken place in the profession as a whole. The left-leaning decisions of the Warren and Burger Courts had become a reigning orthodoxy, and support among faculty for such causes as affirmative action and abortion rights was overwhelming.

But even law schools were not totally immune from the trends that were pushing the nation''s politics to the right, and a small group of students like Calabresi decided to turn these inchoate tendencies into something more enduring. Along with Lee Liberman and David McIntosh, two friends from Yale College who had gone on to law school at the University of Chicago, Calabresi decided to start an organization that would serve as a platform to discuss and advocate conservative ideas in legal thought. They considered several names that would showcase their erudition–"The Ludwig von Mises Society," and "The Alexander Bickel Society"–but they settled on a more elegant choice. They called themselves the Federalist Society, after the early American patriots who fought for the ratification of the Constitution in 1789. Calabresi''s guide on the Yale Law School faculty was Professor Robert Bork. Liberman and McIntosh started a Federalist branch at Chicago and recruited as their first faculty adviser a professor named Antonin Scalia.

The idea for a conservative legal organization was perfectly timed, and not just because of the Republican ascendancy in electoral politics. In this period, liberalism may have been supreme at law schools, but it was hardly an intellectually dynamic force. In the 1960s, liberal scholars at Yale and elsewhere were writing the law review articles that gave intellectual heft to the decisions of the Warren Court, but by the eighties, the failures of the Carter administration turned many traditional Democrats away from the practical realities of law to a more exotic passion--advocating (or decrying) a movement known as Critical Legal Studies. Drawing heavily on the work of thinkers like the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci and the French poststructuralist Jacques Derrida, CLS devotees attacked the idea that law could be a system of neutral principles, or even one that could create a fairer and more just society. Rather, they viewed law mainly as a tool of oppression that the powerful used against the weak. Whatever its ultimate merits, CLS was singularly inconsequential outside the confines of law schools, its nihilism and extremism rendering it largely irrelevant to the work of judges and lawmakers. At law schools, then, the field was largely open for a vigorous conservative insurgency.

So the Federalist Society both reflected and propelled the growth of the conservative movement. It held its first national conference in 1982, and by the following year there were chapters in more than a dozen law schools. Recognizing the intellectual potential of the society, conservative organizations like the John M. Olin and Scaife foundations made important early grants that allowed the Federalists to establish a full-time office in Washington. The Reagan administration began hiring Federalist members as staffers and, of course, appointing them as judicial nominees, with Bork and Scalia as the most famous examples. (Bork and Scalia both went on the D.C. Circuit in 1982. Calabresi himself went on to be a professor of law at Northwestern.)

The young Federalists who started organizing in the early eighties did not merely strive to recapitulate the tactics of their conservative elders. The prior generation, those who waged their decorous battle against the extremes of the Warren Court, preferred "judicial restraint" to "judicial activism." For conservatives like Justices Stewart or John Marshall Harlan II, who were two frequent dissenters from Warren Court decisions, the core idea was that judges should defer to the democratic branches of government and thus resist the temptation to overturn statutes or veto the actions of government officials. But the new generation of conservatives had more audacious goals. Indeed, they did not believe in judicial restraint, and they represented a new kind of judicial activism themselves. They believed that constitutional law had taken some profoundly wrong turns, and they were not shy about demanding that the courts take the lead in restoring the rightful order.

***

With the election of Ronald Reagan, conservative ideas suddenly had important new sponsors in Washington. Reagan was elected on promises of shrinking the federal government, which he proposed to do by cutting the budgets for social programs. Many in the Federalist Society sought a legal route to the same goal. Back in 1905, the Supreme Court had said in Lochner v. New York that a law that set a maximum number of hours for bakers was unconstitutional because it violated the bakers'' freedom of contract under the Fourteenth Amendment''s protection of "liberty" and "property." By the 1940s, the Roosevelt appointees to the Supreme Court had repudiated the " Lochner era," and for decades no one had seriously suggested that there might be constitutional limits on the scope of the federal government''s power. Then, suddenly, in the Reagan years, some conservatives started questioning that wisdom and asserting that much of what the federal government did was unconstitutional. (The second event ever sponsored by the Federalist Society was a speech at Yale in 1982 by Professor Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago Law School in favor of Lochner v. New York.) While Reagan was arguing that Congress should not pass regulations, the Federalists were saying that, under the Constitution, Congress could not.

Edwin Meese III, Reagan''s attorney general in his second term, provided a framework for the emerging conservative critique of the Warren and Burger era when he called for a "jurisprudence of original intention." The words of the Constitution, he said, meant only what the authors of the document thought they meant. Or, as the leading "originalist," Robert Bork, put it, "The framers'' intentions with respect to freedoms are the sole legitimate premise from which constitutional analysis may proceed." According to Bork, the meaning of the words did not evolve over time. This was an unprecedented view of the Constitution in modern times. Even before the Warren Court, most justices thought that the words of the Constitution were to be interpreted in light of a variety of factors, beyond just the intentions of the framers. As the originalists'' greatest adversary, William Brennan, observed in 1985, "the genius of the Constitution rests not in any static meaning it might have had in a world that is dead and gone, but in the adaptability of its great principles to cope with current problems and current needs."

In large measure, the debate over original intent amounted to a proxy for the legal struggle over legalized abortion. No one argued that the authors of the Constitution intended for their words to prohibit states from regulating a woman''s reproductive choices; to Bork and Scalia, that ended the debate over whether the Supreme Court should protect a woman''s right to choose. If the framers did not believe that the Constitution protected a woman''s right to an abortion, then the Supreme Court should never recognize any such right either. In the Roe decision itself, Harry Blackmun had acknowledged that the words of the Constitution did not compel his decision. "The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy," Blackmun had written, but the Court had over time "recognized that a right of personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy, does exist under the Constitution." The interpretive leap of Roe was Blackmun''s conclusion for the Court that "this right of privacy . . . is broad enough to encompass a woman''s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy." And it was this conclusion above all that the new generation of conservatives in Washington during the Reagan years began trying to persuade the Court to reverse.

***

One of those young lawyers was Samuel A. Alito Jr., who was just six years out of law school when he joined the staff of the Justice Department shortly after Reagan was inaugurated in 1981. Four years later, he was presented with a classic dilemma for a committed legal conservative: how best to persuade the Court to overturn Roe v. Wade–all at once or a little bit at a time?

In 1982, Pennsylvania had tightened its restrictions on abortion, including requiring that women be prevented from undergoing the procedure without first hearing a detailed series of announcements about its risks. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit had declared most of the new rules unconstitutional--as violations of the right to privacy and the rule of Roe v. Wade. Alito had joined the staff of the solicitor general, the president''s chief advocate before the Supreme Court, and he was assigned the job of suggesting how best to attack the Third Circuit''s decision and persuade the Supreme Court to preserve the Pennsylvania law. Around that time, over the Reagan administration''s objection, a majority of the justices had reaffirmed their support of Roe. The question for Alito was what to do in light of the justices'' intransigence. In a memo to his boss on May 30, 1985, Alito wrote, "No one seriously believes that the Court is about to overrule Roe. But the Court''s decision to review [the Pennsylvania case] may be a positive sign." He continued, "By taking these cases, the Court may be signaling an inclination to cut back. What can be made of this opportunity to advance the goals of bringing about the eventual overruling of Roe v. Wade and, in the meantime, of mitigating its effects?" Alito wound up recommending an aggressive line of attack against Roe. "We should make clear that we disagree with Roe v. Wade and would welcome the opportunity to brief the issue of whether, and if so to what extent, that decision should be overruled," he wrote; at the same time, the Justice Department should defend the Pennsylvania law as consistent with Roe and the Court''s other abortion decisions.

The solicitor general filed a brief much in line with what Alito recommended, but the case, Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, turned out to be a clear defeat for the Reagan administration. In a stinging, almost contemptuous opinion, written by Blackmun, the Court rejected the Pennsylvania law, declaring, "The States are not free, under the guise of protecting maternal health or potential life, to intimidate women into continuing pregnancies." In a plain message to the conservative activists now in charge at the Justice Department, he wrote, "The constitutional principles that led this Court to its decisions in 1973 still provide the compelling reason for recognizing the constitutional dimensions of a woman''s right to decide whether to end her pregnancy." Raising the rhetorical stakes, Blackmun went on to quote Earl Warren''s words for the Court in Brown v. Board of Education: "It should go without saying that the vitality of these constitutional principles cannot be allowed to yield simply because of disagreement with them." To Blackmun, the war on Roe was morally little different from the "massive resistance" that met the Court''s desegregation decisions a generation earlier.

But while Roe commanded a majority of seven justices in 1973, the decision in Thornburgh was supported by only a bare majority of five in 1986. So within the Reagan administration, the lesson of the case was obvious--and one that conservatives took to heart. They didn''t need better arguments; they just needed new justices.

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Top reviews from the United States

Cathryn Conroy
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Highly Readable (Translation: No Law Degree Needed) and Fascinating Inside Look at the Supremes
Reviewed in the United States on November 6, 2020
Typically, we learn a lot about and frequently see in the news Supreme Court justices only when they are nominated and subsequently confirmed by the Senate after a series of hearings, some of which can be quite confrontational and even belligerent. Then they seemingly... See more
Typically, we learn a lot about and frequently see in the news Supreme Court justices only when they are nominated and subsequently confirmed by the Senate after a series of hearings, some of which can be quite confrontational and even belligerent. Then they seemingly disappear from public view. This book, expertly written by Jeffrey Toobin, gives us an inside look into what is largely considered a highly secret, if not clandestine, branch of government.

What makes this book especially fascinating is that it is both a detailed expose on how the Supreme Court works, as well as a deep dive into the personalities and quirks of the nine justices. Published in 2008, the book focuses largely on the William Rehnquist court of 1986 to 2005 and then the first few years of the John Roberts court that began in 2005.

When Toobin explores the major Supreme Court cases—from Planned Parenthood v. Casey (a 1992 landmark ruling on abortion rights) to Bush v. Gore (which settled the contentious 2000 presidential election), he not only explains the cases, what they mean, and which justices supported/opposed them, but also the interactions, ploys, and conversations between the justices. It is the latter that makes this book so worth reading.

Find out…
• …why Roe v. Wade was not overturned in the early 1990s when eight of the nine justices had been appointed by Republican presidents.

• …about the surprising workplace culture of the Supreme Court, including how often they socialize or chit chat at work and off the job.

• …the real mess the justices made of the 2000 election decision of which even they are (mostly) still ashamed, as well as the unintended consequences of both this decision and the George W. Bush presidency that altered the culture and leanings of the justices.

• …why there really are only two types of cases before the Supreme Court: abortion cases and all others.

• …why the Fourteenth Amendment seems to be critical to so many Supreme Court cases.

Even though there are several sections that are heavy on legalese, the book overall is highly readable and no law degree is needed to understand it and enjoy it.
5 people found this helpful
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Irish in Carmichael
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Dem''s Have It -- In Overtime
Reviewed in the United States on May 1, 2017
Writer does a very reasonable job in researching the topic, sees the Court as political--which it often is. He reaches for conclusions of "good" Democrats--"bad" Republicans when evaluating Kennedy decisions or opining on the basis for O''Connor rulings and... See more
Writer does a very reasonable job in researching the topic, sees the Court as political--which it often is. He reaches for conclusions of "good" Democrats--"bad" Republicans when evaluating Kennedy decisions or opining on the basis for O''Connor rulings and her conclusions--which I doubt she ever spoke or wrote. You probably need to balance this slant on history with a more thorough reading of the Court''s actual activity and some of O''Connor''s writings. I expect the Judges would all consider themselves more intellectually grounded than Mr. Toobin gives credit. Over the last three decades the Court''s decisions have been chronicled as more political, a trend it is hard to evaluate but Mr. Toobin assures us he has done so fairly...I and others don''t remember history as he frames it in a number of sequences. I expect those leaning to the Democratic side of the isle will find his book entertaining and consistent with their reality. Perhaps they can explain why the Court''s conservative majority did not overwhelmingly make all decisions on a political basis. Mr. Toobin does not create his data, and he does not misinterpret his facts--he just draws somewhat biased or unfounded conclusions. Good background info.
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Richard S. Dixon Jr.
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Abridged Too Far: Toobin comes up short in the Audio book version.
Reviewed in the United States on March 21, 2017
This is a heavily abridged audio version of Toobin''s longer published book. I enjoy Toobin on CNN a great deal; his reporting is even-handed, "lawyer-ly" (in a good sense) and very smart, in general. This book follows much the same pattern. Toobin is not extreme,... See more
This is a heavily abridged audio version of Toobin''s longer published book. I enjoy Toobin on CNN a great deal; his reporting is even-handed, "lawyer-ly" (in a good sense) and very smart, in general. This book follows much the same pattern. Toobin is not extreme, and he is not rabidly political. If you want a solid work on the background of the Supreme Court, this is it. One caveat however, regarding this audio book: it is a much shortened edition of the real book, and I was very disappointed when I discovered that, in that much of the legal analysis has been dropped in favor of narrative. I regret that, as I regard Toobin as a real smart guy, from whom I can learn a great deal. Still, this audio book is a good start; the book is even better.
14 people found this helpful
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Pete
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A history of the Court to be read with a grain of skepticism
Reviewed in the United States on August 29, 2017
There is no doubt that Toobin has a gift for writing history with the average reader in mind. The Nine is both entertaining and educational, recounting the history of the Burger, Rheinquist and Roberts Courts. The book focuses separately on the political decisions and drama... See more
There is no doubt that Toobin has a gift for writing history with the average reader in mind. The Nine is both entertaining and educational, recounting the history of the Burger, Rheinquist and Roberts Courts. The book focuses separately on the political decisions and drama that lead to the composition of the Court, and the landmark cases of interest to the general public. Most striking is the recounting of "inside information" happening within the Justices'' chambers during these historic moments.

This book was not written for appellate lawyers, and does not dwell on little-known cases with (arguably) more legal importance than Roe v. Wade etc. But Toobin''s aim is not to recant important case law, but to draw focus to the human actors and the way in which they made decisions affecting millions of Americans. He achieves this, and gives readers a privileged view into the most secretive branch of the US government.

I do wish that Toobin had taken a more tempered approach to looking at the Supreme Court. When only focusing on contentious cases, one can walk away with a very jaded view of the good work the Justices do. To wit, a major element of the book is a narrative of a seedy conservative plot to take over the Court. While the Court has no doubt drifted right, Toobin''s panic can seep through in off putting ways. Unfortunately, this is largely to do with the historical moment Toobin focuses on which is exclusively after the Warren Court. A reader interested in the politics of the Court would be wise to expand their inquiries to other sources, and other periods of Court history, and take Toobin''s conclusions with a grain of salt.
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AlisonA
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Good information but politically biased
Reviewed in the United States on June 12, 2018
This book has lots of information that was very interesting. Unfortunately, the writer subtly but clearly discloses his political biases by how he portrays certain presidents versus others. The book would have been so much better had he simply reported the unbiased facts,... See more
This book has lots of information that was very interesting. Unfortunately, the writer subtly but clearly discloses his political biases by how he portrays certain presidents versus others. The book would have been so much better had he simply reported the unbiased facts, without trying to color the reader''s opinion about certain social issues.
11 people found this helpful
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JilliePepper
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I suppose it might be dull for someone who is entirely uninterested in history or ...
Reviewed in the United States on September 3, 2015
Heard about this book from a friend and bought it sight unseen. I could not put it down!! I suppose it might be dull for someone who is entirely uninterested in history or justice or politics but for anyone with even a slight interest in these things, I highly recommend.... See more
Heard about this book from a friend and bought it sight unseen. I could not put it down!! I suppose it might be dull for someone who is entirely uninterested in history or justice or politics but for anyone with even a slight interest in these things, I highly recommend. I feel like I understand recent judicial history so much more clearly and I loved the opportunity to get to know the justices on a more personal level. I will definitely read again--love seeing this one on my bookshelf!
17 people found this helpful
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K. Morella
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
SORRY that I wasted money on this drivel
Reviewed in the United States on January 14, 2021
Writer is OBVIOUSLY a Left Winged Liberal as every other word revealed that.
It was hard to get through the first 3 chapters as it got to be condescending. THEN, the author made the news late in 2019... well, that was enough for me. Happy to GIVE my copy away.
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Eclectic One
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Supremes: A Fall From Their Pedestial
Reviewed in the United States on June 3, 2011
The plot of land that is home to the Supreme Court is small, irregularly shaped, and wedged between two other buildings. In order to impress the public with the importance of the Supreme Court, the original architect designed it with 44 steps leading to the entrance,... See more
The plot of land that is home to the Supreme Court is small, irregularly shaped, and wedged between two other buildings. In order to impress the public with the importance of the Supreme Court, the original architect designed it with 44 steps leading to the entrance, guarded by soaring marble columns standing like sentrys at the entrance to the court building. The goal was to have visitors and those with business before the court be awed by the experience, and be humbled by what they were about to be part of.

"The Nine" bears witness the the actual human frailties of the Supreme Court. It is not the building, it is the members of the court who give it whatever statue and bearing it is might have. The intent of the Supreme Court was to be a constant, a rock of representation of the people over the vagaries of the comings and goings of members of Congress.

"The Nine" looks deeply into the makeup of the John Roberts court, and the very important, and often times frightening thought process of the individual members. Tobin is able to dig deeply into each justice, their histories, what in their lives may have significantly contributed to their belief systems, and how this combination of individual chemistry makes decisions.

As a reader, I was also scared straight, so to speak, in realizing how large a role individual pettiness, personal politics and prejudices, and in some cases, lack of experiences plays in determining the rules of the land. Where many might see, or wish to believe in the concept of an august body of minds determining cases based upon deep legal research and unbiased, logical thinking, Tobin shows the actual process to be the opposite.

The author has peeled back the layers of secrecy that surrounds the Court, and reveals just who had the real power in the court, the politics of being nominated and approved to sit as a justice, and the role that expediency and partisinship plays in becoming a nominee.

The most disturbing aspects to me, without giving away too much of the insights provided by reading the book, was just how shallow and vindicitive one currently sitting justice is. He in turn, is followed by another who is so extreme, who views the Constitution strictly as though he were sitting in Philadelphia in the 18th century, as to make his votes and his opinions marginal at best.

There is also great deal of discussion of several recent and very controversial rulings, such as the New London eminent domain case in which a public entity can take property to give to a commercial concern. Or the Citizens United, which allows corporations to pass on the benefits of their deep pockets to political parties and candidates.

Reading "The Nine" was an eye-opening experience for me, which pulled back the black curtains of secrecy. It was like removing the robes of the justices, and finding out they wear the same frazzled jeans to work that I often do. Tobin has managed to write a compelling story that reveals just how human the court really is.

As for the imposing steps to gaining entrance, I was left to feel that today''s court has replaced them with a people mover, welcoming wealthy individuals and mega-corporations to the inner sanctums where their wishes become almost rubber stamped. The irony is that the steps are about to be closed in real life, and a side entrance will be used in the future. It''s as if the Supreme Court of the past, once held in high esteem and regard as represented by its imposing entrance, has become yet another assembly line of sound-byte justice.

A great read overall.
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Top reviews from other countries

Rob
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An enjoyable read that describes a disturbing reality
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 5, 2015
As an American lawyer who has been away from US law school (and lived outside the US) for more than 20 years, I found this an excellent and accessible overview of relatively recent politics within the Supreme Court. The discussion of the 2000 Bush vs Gore case alone is...See more
As an American lawyer who has been away from US law school (and lived outside the US) for more than 20 years, I found this an excellent and accessible overview of relatively recent politics within the Supreme Court. The discussion of the 2000 Bush vs Gore case alone is enough reason to read the book, but don''t skip immediately to this story. Toobin nicely sets the stage to explain the dysfunctional atmosphere within the Court well before it intervened in the US presidential election process. Tobin''s Court is a sad place for a lawyer to visit. Gone is almost any consideration of the law as a discipline that binds member of the Supreme Court in any meaningful fashion. In its place the author describes a decade of jurisprudence that seems to be summarised as, "Whatever Sandra Day O''Connor believes will be significantly less disruptive." I''m not enough of a Constitutional scholar to confirm or deny Toobin''s thesis. I''m also not criticising Justice O''Connor. The story did leave me feeling rather empty about the Court as an institution, and less certain of the predictability of its jurisprudence. As a lawyer who believes in the value and necessity of "law" as an expression of predictable social moderation, this is a cause for sadness. Drawing on my memory of Bob Woodward''s "The Brethren" (which I read i the 1980s), Toobin tells a more compelling (and easier to read) story than Woodward although Woodward is probably more comprehensive in telling the (now old) story of the Burger Court. Of course Woodward''s book broke new ground in its day by having the temerity to suggest that the Court could be thought of as a "political" institution. Woodward also seemed to err on the side of forensic analysis, trying to prove his points and to make sure he was believed. This was critical in those days as Woodward also broke new ground by the almost exclusive use of un-named sources. Toobin has reaped the benefit of Woodward''s work, and as a result has been able to use a more relaxed writing style. My only hesitation (and what held me back from a 5 star review) was the fashion in which the book concludes. Having worked hard to create a narrative around the major decisions of the age and the personalities who created them, the last few chapters of the book seem to run out of steam and start to resemble the usual sort of quickly written journalist reports of individual cases. By the end of the book, Toobin has abandoned the wonderful description of a forest he had painted, and has replaced it with a series of small, and less satisfying, descriptions of individual trees. I recommend this book whole heartedly to lawyers and non-lawyer alike.
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Daniel Stylianou
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Brilliant book!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 1, 2016
Absolutely brilliant book - couldn''t put it down. The author manages to draw you in with tidbits from court life and also, at crucial points, gives you backstory to the justice''s that in context explain their court decisions well. The book itself isn''t just full of the...See more
Absolutely brilliant book - couldn''t put it down. The author manages to draw you in with tidbits from court life and also, at crucial points, gives you backstory to the justice''s that in context explain their court decisions well. The book itself isn''t just full of the decisions either; it runs over maybe a dozen of the most important over a period of years but does so without being stuffy or boring: a must read for anyone interested in the Supreme Court.
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Interaction of Politics and Justice.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 22, 2017
A very readable and informative view of the politics behind the Supreme Court, its more recent members and the basis of some of their major decisions.
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trngczar
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Fortunately, it was a semester break and I could ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 10, 2015
Once I started reading this book it became more and more difficult to put down. Fortunately, it was a semester break and I could spend more time reading without disturbing my college homework routine.
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Ms. A. Almond
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
UK beware....
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 30, 2015
Well written but almost impossible for the UK reader.
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