22 June 2013

Review: The Roberts Court: The Struggle for the Constitution

The Roberts Court: The Struggle for the Constitution
The Roberts Court: The Struggle for the Constitution by Marcia Coyle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A good book about four major cases that define the current Roberts Court in the United States Supreme Court. It could have been closer to four stars if it were not so entrenched in partisan, often already-discredited, liberal thinking on the legal matters.

The book effectively picks up on the history and judicial results of four cases: a voting rights act case early in Roberts's tenure, DC v. Heller, Citizens United, and last summer's health care reform cases. In each one, Coyle discusses the history of how the cases came to be, takes some time with the lower court trajectories in various detail, through the oral arguments and into the actual decisions. A lot of this is very interesting inside baseball stuff for court-watchers who would otherwise not read legal magazines or journals, and that in particular ends up being very valuable.

Where the book flops is in its historical accounts, especially in regards to the arguments made by Roberts in regards to Brown v. Board of Education and with the historical record surrounding the second amendment's guarantee of an individual right. While some of the partisanship in the book can be forgiven as such, the allegiance to these points of view when even cursory research corrects them is a significant flaw that detracts from the book on a whole.

Still, an interesting read that probably shouldn't be ignored for those interested in the Court, but maybe not something taken as gospel.

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