Spotlight: The Supreme Court

The nine justices serving the eleven years from 1994-2005 constituted the longest serving nine-member court in our nation’s history. Of these nine justices, seven were nominated by Republican (Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and H.W. Bush) and two by Democratic (Clinton) presidents. Even with the 7-2 Republican-nominated advantage, decisions on abortion, gay rights, gun control, and affirmative action did not go as far as some would expect. In The Nine (2007), Jeffrey Toobin gives some insight on this as he takes us through this eleven year period with the first woman justice (Sandra Day O’Connor) becoming a leader, consensus builder, and deciding vote in many important decisions.

Toobin’s follow up, The Oath (2012), begins in 2005 when Roberts becomes the Chief Justice and goes on to explain the strained relations between the court and the president. Trouble began with the muffed oath at the beginning of the Obama presidency and progressed with the President’s voiced objection to the First United decision in his State of the Union message. Although Roberts joined the 5-4 majority in upholding the Presidents Affordable Health Care Act, Toobin suggests the Roberts court will continue to take a conservative slant. The author introduces the reader to the other three new justices (Alito, Sotomayer, and Kagan) entering the court from 2006 to 2010 and follows the retiring Justices Stevens and O’Connor in their last days with the court. The author shows his admiration for Justice O’Connor after her retirement to care for her husband. To Toobin, she was the most powerful and influential woman in the history of the nation.

 

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