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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 bestseller 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.
Toobin, a staff writer for The New Yorker, adds to his works of political analysis (including 2008's The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court) with this thorough exploration of the relationship between the Supreme Court and the Obama administration. After discussing the repercussions of Chief Justice John Roberts botching the oath at the 2009 presidential inauguration, Toobin sets the stage by reviewing Roberts' professional background, as well as Obama's views on the Constitution and the "precocious political skills" that enabled him to rise to the top. Toobin profiles new, current, and former justices, providing glimpses into their personal and professional lives while highlighting their individual personalities and talents, demonstrating what each justice brings to the Court, and how these factors affect their interactions. With great attention to detail, he also expounds on the outcomes and implications of many recent cases, including Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, and the recent ruling on the Affordable Care Act. Though Toobin's exhaustively researched study is marred by a haphazard structure and weak conclusion, it is nevertheless as readable, and informative, as his magazine pieces, and will greatly interest those involved in politics.