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RACreads: Reviewing The Nine

RACreads: Reviewing The Nine

As an infrequent reader of non-fiction, I was skeptical about the persistent praise of Jeffrey Toobin's The Nine.  While intrigued by the subject matter that Toobin was tackling, I expected to be bored by a simple story laced with indigestible legal jargon.  I could not have been more wrong.  Toobin brought the Justices to life.  With his narrative style and amusing anecdotes, he opened the door to our nation's highest court and introduced us to the interesting characters who work inside. 

The Nine tells the story of the Rehnquist Court and, with its
non-linear approach, provides key facts about Supreme Court history. 
However, the underlying thrust of the book is a criticism of the
ideological shift of the court and an analysis of the forces that have
caused this shift to occur.

Bush v. Gore is at the heart of the story,
as is Justice O'Connor's key role in this watershed decision, as well
as many others.  The culmination of the story is the contentious
confirmation battles of 2005, which resulted in two new Justices that
moved the Court decidedly to the right.

Most importantly, this book makes the Supreme Court accessible to the
average, non-lawyer type (myself included).  It deconstructs the
complexities of how the Supreme Court functions and makes its
procedures understandable- almost logical.  Ultimately, the American
public needs books like Toobin's, which make the Court seem less
esoteric and untouchable.  With the knowledge that Toobin provides,
Americans can better understand how the Court affects our lives and, in
turn, how we can affect the Court.  With a Supreme Court vacancy and
another debate (hopefully NOT a fight) on the horizon, these lessons
are more important than ever.

Discussion Questions

  • What makes this book a social action text?
  • How is the religious community portrayed in the book?  Is this portrayal accurate?
  • How does Toobin describe O'Connor's role on the Court? Why is she such an important figure?  What lessons can we learn from her?
  • What questions about the Court did Toobin NOT answer?

Published: 6/11/2009

Categories: Social Justice, Uncategorized
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