Reading the Supremes

Posted on September 22, 2020

by Eric P

A couple of years ago we published a blog post here about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her recent passing has revived interest in her life and career, and in addition to the books discussed in that post you can learn more about her through documentaries like RBG and feature films like On the Basis of Sex.

Cover of RBG Cover of RBG

RBG

Cover of On the Basis of Sex Cover of On the Basis of Sex

On the Basis of Sex

But Justice Ginsburg’s recent passing has also ignited popular conversations about the Supreme Court itself and the ways in which justices are nominated, confirmed, and treated in the political ecosystem of Washington. As usual, the Library’s got books for that.

Bob Woodward, a journalistic institution and himself a recent grabber of headlines for his latest book about the Trump White House, wrote a widely read book, The Brethren, about the Supreme Court between 1969 and 1975; it’s available through the Search Ohio network. For all its influence, however, it’s not an extremely well-regarded book, either among Supreme Court titles or within Woodward’s ouvre. His characterizations of the justices as petty, scheming, and egotistical finaglers make the most elevated legal thinkers in the land come across as a mix of the Greek gods and the cast of a reality show.

The Brethren: inside the Supreme Court

Search Ohio

There are, however, authors who’ve made the Supreme Court a specialty and are more successful at it.. One is Joan Biskupic, whose biographies of the justices Scalia, O’Connor, and Roberts create an intersecting portrait of the institution and its personalities:

Cover of American Original: The life and constitution of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia Cover of American Original: The life and constitution of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia

American Original: The life and constitution of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia

Cover of Sandra Day O’Connor: How the first woman on the Supreme Court became its most influential justice Cover of Sandra Day O’Connor: How the first woman on the Supreme Court became its most influential justice

Sandra Day O’Connor: How the first woman on the Supreme Court became its most influential justice

Cover of The Chief: the life and turbulent times of Chief Justice John Roberts Cover of The Chief: the life and turbulent times of Chief Justice John Roberts

The Chief: the life and turbulent times of Chief Justice John Roberts

Another author is Jeffrey Toobin, whose The Nine is a classic and compelling depiction of the recent Court.

Cover of The Nine: inside the secret world of the Supreme Court Cover of The Nine: inside the secret world of the Supreme Court

The Nine: inside the secret world of the Supreme Court

Book on CD

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eAudio

Cover of The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court Cover of The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court

The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court

Book

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