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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