by Joan Biskupic
William Morrow, 2023
Audio edition narrated by Kristen Potter
Harper Audio, 2023
13 hours and 11 minutes
This is an excellent book! Joan Biskupic has presented us with a well-researched, comprehensive, and objective look at the Supreme Court from the period following Antonin Scalia's death in February 2016 (when the senate chose not to take up Barak Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland because it was too close to a presidential election), to the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September 2020 and the confirmation of her replacement just days before a presidential election, and through last year's Supreme Court term.
Regular readers of this blog know I'm a Supreme Court junkie. I've read several biographies (including two by Biskupic) of different justices, as well as a few other books about the court in general. This book has a broad focus as Biskupic chronicles both the work of the Court and events surrounding the Court.
Events surrounding the Court include death and retirement of justices, selection and vetting of new candidates, the confirmation process, the Covid pandemic, the working relationship between justices, and more.
The work of the Court delves into specific cases. Biskupic provides relevant background information, including the path cases take prior to appearing on the Court's docket. She covers oral arguments, behind the scenes negotiations ahead of rulings, Court decisions with vote counts, and significant quotes from judgements and dissents.
There is a lot of information here to absorb and digest. I found that a read/listen combination worked best for me as I read the book slowly, over a longer period of time.
Most of the information in this book is not new. It has been extensively presented over the years - in books, newspapers, magazines, online news sources, as well as podcasts and on television. Sometimes though, unless you're paying very close attention, it can be hard to wade through the content, put it all in context, and see trends as they develop. Reading through this history, thoroughly and logically presented in one book, was eye-opening.
This is an important book. It may require some patience and dedication to get through, especially if you are unfamiliar with the specific cases discussed, but I found it to be an interesting and extremely worthwhile read. Very highly recommended.