• U.S.

A Peek Under the Robes

1 minute read
Lev Grossman

Jan Crawford Greenburg got unusual access for her new book, Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court (Penguin Press; 340 pages), including interviews with nine current and former Justices. The result is a rare inside look at the strange, hermetic world of the highest court in the land. The book reveals Clarence Thomas–often seen as Antonin Scalia’s understudy–to be a surprisingly forceful conservative voice on the court who sways Scalia rather than the other way around and who pushes more moderate Justices leftward in reaction. Greenburg also shows that when William Rehnquist fell ill but didn’t step down, Sandra Day O’Connor was effectively forced to resign early to avoid the possibility of a double vacancy on the court. O’Connor, who snipes with Scalia in the book, is frank about the court’s infamous Bush v. Gore ruling: “Given more time, I think we probably would’ve done better.”

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