Jan 212013
 

In a surprisingly so-so book, Jeffrey Toobin follows The Nine, his phenomenal account of the Supreme Court’s evolution from the 1970s to the Obama years, with a series of case since Obama took office.  Toobin’s highly liberal perspective takes deep offense at the judicial activism spearheaded by the five to four Republican majority that now rules.  Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Fox-ian judges Scalia and Thomas  have employed an originalist approach to the constitution positing that what the Founding Fathers laid out in the 18th century is immutable, which of course is nonsense.  Rather, after several decades of a bench dominated by Democratic appointments whose members took judicial activism to enlarge the rights of minorities and the impoverished, the current Republican majority is turning the tables.  Gun control, campaign finance reform, and employee rights are on the way out as corporate power gains ascendancy.  Toobin cries foul and since I agree with his politics I concur with his conclusion, but his approach is transparently biased.  The one exception was the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Obamacare; Roberts switched sides to give the President a victory, but even this Toobin argues was an intentionally forfeited battle in service to a greater conservative agenda.  The cases Toobin selects are undoubtedly the most important of the last five years, although his explanations are sometimes so full of legal jargon they are difficult to absorb with only a single reading.  Not as compelling as his first book — more of a series of sequential articles — but nonetheless I finished with a feeling of very deep unease about the future of the country.

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