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 U.S. 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.
"Marcia Coyle has written the go-to book for anyone who wants to understand the most conservative Supreme Court that most Americans alive today can remember. Her acute focus on key 5-4 cases not only shows us the Roberts court in action but also explains how conservative social movements have made their voices heard at the court on issues that matter to us all." (Linda Greenhouse, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Becoming Justice Blackmun)
"One of the best Supreme Court books in years; a wise and deeply reported inside look at the court, its struggles, and the justices themselves." (Bob Woodward, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brethren)
"In this fast-paced narrative, Marcia Coyle brings alive the four recent cases that illuminate the emerging agenda of the Roberts court. Everyone gets a voice in Coyle’s story: litigants, lawyers, clerks on the court, even the justices themselves. In an understated but powerful voice, she also implies that the conservative majority on the Roberts Court is pursuing an agenda as broad and active as any Court in our history. Coyle concisely captures the complexities of constitutional jurisprudence." (Jack Rakove, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Original Meanings)
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How the Court has changed