Seven minutes after President Obama put his signature to a landmark national health care insurance program, a lawyer in the office of Florida GOP attorney general Bill McCollum hit a computer key, sparking a legal challenge to the new law that would eventually reach the nation's highest court. Health care is only the most visible and recent front in a battle over the meaning and scope of the US Constitution. The battleground is the Supreme Court, and one of the most skilled, insightful, and trenchant of its observers takes us close up to watch it in action.
The Roberts court, seven years old, is at the center of a constitutional maelstrom. Four landmark decisions—concerning health care, money in elections, guns at home, and race in schools—reveal the fault lines in a conservative-dominated court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr.
Marcia Coyle's brilliant inside account of the high court captures how those cases began—the personalities and conflicts that catapulted them onto the national scene—and how they ultimately exposed the great divides among the justices, such as the originalists versus the pragmatists on guns and the Second Amendment, and corporate speech versus human speech in the controversial Citizens United campaign case. Most dramatically, her analysis shows how dedicated conservative lawyers and groups are strategizing to find cases and crafting them to bring up the judicial road to the Supreme Court with an eye on a receptive conservative majority. The Roberts Court offers a ringside seat at the struggle to lay down the law of the land.
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“From campaign finance to gun rights, from public-school integration to health care, the court has recently overruled precedents, raised unasked legal questions, and disregarded the decisions of elected officials, generating worries that the court may be becoming as partisan an institution as Congress…In separate sections, Coyle carefully and in great detail examines recent rulings…In this insightful, important look at the Roberts court, Coyle…explores the broader implications for American politics and justice.”
Booklist (starred review)