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From the prizewinning author of The Nine, a gripping insider's account of the momentous ideological war between the John Roberts Supreme Court and the Obama administration. From the moment John Roberts, the chief justice of the United States, blundered through the Oath of Office at Barack Obama's inauguration, the relationship between the Supreme Court and the White House h From the prizewinning author of The Nine, a gripping insider's account of the momentous ideological war between the John Roberts Supreme Court and the Obama administration. From the moment John Roberts, the chief justice of the United States, blundered through the Oath of Office at Barack Obama's inauguration, the relationship between the Supreme Court and the White House has been confrontational. Both men are young, brilliant, charismatic, charming, determined to change the course of the nation—and completely at odds on almost every major constitutional issue. One is radical; one essentially conservative. The surprise is that Obama is the conservative—a believer in incremental change, compromise, and pragmatism over ideology. Roberts—and his allies on the Court—seek to overturn decades of precedent: in short, to undo the ultimate victory FDR achieved in the New Deal.    This ideological war will crescendo during the 2011-2012 term, in which several landmark cases are on the Court's docket—most crucially, a challenge to Obama's controversial health-care legislation. With four new justices joining the Court in just five years, including Obama's appointees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, this is a dramatically—and historically—different Supreme Court, playing for the highest of stakes.    No one is better positioned to chronicle this dramatic tale than Jeffrey Toobin, whose prize-winning bestseller The Nine laid bare the inner workings and conflicts of the Court in meticulous and entertaining detail. As the nation prepares to vote for President in 2012, the future of the Supreme Court will also be on the ballot.


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From the prizewinning author of The Nine, a gripping insider's account of the momentous ideological war between the John Roberts Supreme Court and the Obama administration. From the moment John Roberts, the chief justice of the United States, blundered through the Oath of Office at Barack Obama's inauguration, the relationship between the Supreme Court and the White House h From the prizewinning author of The Nine, a gripping insider's account of the momentous ideological war between the John Roberts Supreme Court and the Obama administration. From the moment John Roberts, the chief justice of the United States, blundered through the Oath of Office at Barack Obama's inauguration, the relationship between the Supreme Court and the White House has been confrontational. Both men are young, brilliant, charismatic, charming, determined to change the course of the nation—and completely at odds on almost every major constitutional issue. One is radical; one essentially conservative. The surprise is that Obama is the conservative—a believer in incremental change, compromise, and pragmatism over ideology. Roberts—and his allies on the Court—seek to overturn decades of precedent: in short, to undo the ultimate victory FDR achieved in the New Deal.    This ideological war will crescendo during the 2011-2012 term, in which several landmark cases are on the Court's docket—most crucially, a challenge to Obama's controversial health-care legislation. With four new justices joining the Court in just five years, including Obama's appointees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, this is a dramatically—and historically—different Supreme Court, playing for the highest of stakes.    No one is better positioned to chronicle this dramatic tale than Jeffrey Toobin, whose prize-winning bestseller The Nine laid bare the inner workings and conflicts of the Court in meticulous and entertaining detail. As the nation prepares to vote for President in 2012, the future of the Supreme Court will also be on the ballot.

30 review for The Oath: The Obama White House and The Supreme Court

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Very good book on the recent Supreme Court inter workings from 2008 to 2013. The book pivots between short bios on the justices and behind the scenes drama of several landmark Supreme Court decisions. The book begins with Justice Roberts bumbling Obama’s inaugural oath forcing a do-over two days later and then highlights the cool relationship between the two, based largely on ideology. The rest of the book focuses solely on the court so the oath is really the carrot to get people to pick up the b Very good book on the recent Supreme Court inter workings from 2008 to 2013. The book pivots between short bios on the justices and behind the scenes drama of several landmark Supreme Court decisions. The book begins with Justice Roberts bumbling Obama’s inaugural oath forcing a do-over two days later and then highlights the cool relationship between the two, based largely on ideology. The rest of the book focuses solely on the court so the oath is really the carrot to get people to pick up the book. Much of the book address Citizens United and the ACA Supreme Court cases. Toobin does a masterful job describing all the of drama around these two events which makes the whole book worth reading. Of course he has a strong legal mind and is able to express the nuances of the decisions in layman’s terms. I read the Nine by Toobin as well. I think this book is slightly better, as it more topical and 8 of the 9 justices are still on the court as of May 2018. As a side note, I found it especially humorous the number of times Toobin took issue with Justice Kennedy. He really dislikes Anthony Kennedy. I think hate is a better word.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Connie G

    Legal correspondent Jeffrey Toobin discusses the relationship between the Supreme Court and the executive branch during President Obama's first term in office. As major cases are presented, he weaves in the backgrounds, confirmation processes, legal views, and colorful personalities of the Justices. There is a deep division between the "originalist" interpretation of some of the Justices, going back to the concepts of the Founding Fathers, and the "living Constitution" interpretation of others. I Legal correspondent Jeffrey Toobin discusses the relationship between the Supreme Court and the executive branch during President Obama's first term in office. As major cases are presented, he weaves in the backgrounds, confirmation processes, legal views, and colorful personalities of the Justices. There is a deep division between the "originalist" interpretation of some of the Justices, going back to the concepts of the Founding Fathers, and the "living Constitution" interpretation of others. In the 18th Century, the Founding Fathers had slaves, women were second-class citizens, and the militia shot muskets so we are living in a very different world today. The Court has become more conservative in recent years as moderate Republicans were replaced with more conservative Justices. Two interesting cases drew the most attention in the book. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010 was important since it removed restrictions on corporations funding political campaigns. It was considered to be freedom of speech. The other highlighted case was about health care reform in 2012, National Federation of Independent Business v. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services. Surprisingly Chief Justice Roberts cast the deciding vote upholding the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). He characterized the financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance as a tax, which is permitted by the Constitution. Although the Court has been leaning in a conservative direction overall, the legislation most important to the President was saved. Toobin writes in an accessible manner understandable to the general reader. It was an entertaining and informative look behind the scenes at the people holding an immense amount of power in determining the direction of the country.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lisa B.

    My Thoughts It just so happened that on the day the Supreme Court was going to issue it’s ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA aka Obamacare), I had an appointment with my physician whose office is located within a hospital. Hmmmm - healthcare reform + doctor + hospital - seemed like a good time to ask people their opinion of the Affordable Care Act and their perception on how it would impact them. I, along with the rest of the country was anxiously awaiting the ruling. My Thoughts It just so happened that on the day the Supreme Court was going to issue it’s ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA aka Obamacare), I had an appointment with my physician whose office is located within a hospital. Hmmmm - healthcare reform + doctor + hospital - seemed like a good time to ask people their opinion of the Affordable Care Act and their perception on how it would impact them. I, along with the rest of the country was anxiously awaiting the ruling. When it was announced that the Court decided to uphold the ACA, and this decision involved a stunning vote from Chief Justice John Roberts, I was curious as to how the Court came to their final decision. As luck would have it, this book showed up on my radar screen and seemed like it might have the answers I was looking for. Not only did it do that, but The Oath provided me with a brief education on the Court and the Justices. The book begins with the flubbed oath taking that started President Obama’s current term. It ends with the Court agreeing to rule on the constitutionality of the PPACA, the arguments presented by both sides, and the decision making process of the final rule. In between are chapters that talked about past and present justices, how they came to be on the Court and some of their beliefs and background that help shape whether they are conservative or liberal. I learned a great deal from this book. I really like Mr. Toobin’s writing style. He is informative, yet entertaining. It certainly appears to be well researched. As someone with no legal background, I found the book to be fairly readable in that it did not contain too much legal speak. I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the workings of the Supreme Court and how their decisions impact the nation.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Toobin, master storyteller of the Supreme Court, returns with another great book, full of facts, legal analysis, and political undertones like no other non-fiction author I have read in a long time. The book, while on the surface appearing to be all about the US Supreme Court and the battles during the first Obama Administration, is more about the nine justices (and some that preceded the Administration, whose seats Obama filled) who sit on the Court and their legal histories, Toobin weaves a ma Toobin, master storyteller of the Supreme Court, returns with another great book, full of facts, legal analysis, and political undertones like no other non-fiction author I have read in a long time. The book, while on the surface appearing to be all about the US Supreme Court and the battles during the first Obama Administration, is more about the nine justices (and some that preceded the Administration, whose seats Obama filled) who sit on the Court and their legal histories, Toobin weaves a masterful tale, giving great insight into the lives of the nine most powerful legal minds in the United States and how their past helped shape their current standing on the Court. Add to that the strong (perhaps too light a word) political division on the Court and the reader will see just how partisan the independent branch known as the judiciary can be. Toobin uses a layering effect in the book, dropping crumbs within stories, only to return to them later and expanding on what he's said. He uses the book to present the histories and of the Justices and the political minefield present at the Court, while also layering chapters on the biographical backgrounds of the nine Justices. We learn much about each Justice and take that knowledge, superimposing it onto a recent case, to see how it all fits together. Much is learned about the conservative Justices, and how their push has made the Court a place to destroy law that does not conform with the ruinous Bush Administration ideals. Alas, even the Court has been bastardized by the worst president ever, DUBYA! A sensational read with the culmination of one of the Courts most controversial cases, Obama's Healthcare Plan, and the completely unexpected turn of events. Toobin correctly lays out that the Court may have saved him going into the 2012 election, keeping us all, Americans and others, from a despotic Romney Tea Party. Kudos Mr. Toobin. Keep them coming... for I will eat these types of books up as fast as you can write them!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    This meticulously reported and expertly narrated book is, on the one hand, thrilling, and on the other hand, quite depressing, at least for progressives. In details both personal and political, Toobin lays out how the Supreme Court has fallen into the hands of a conservative majority, masterminded by John Roberts, shepherded by the surprisingly triumphant judicial philosophies of Scalia and Thomas, represented by the swagger of the imperial Kennedy. Toobin places this swing in the context of the This meticulously reported and expertly narrated book is, on the one hand, thrilling, and on the other hand, quite depressing, at least for progressives. In details both personal and political, Toobin lays out how the Supreme Court has fallen into the hands of a conservative majority, masterminded by John Roberts, shepherded by the surprisingly triumphant judicial philosophies of Scalia and Thomas, represented by the swagger of the imperial Kennedy. Toobin places this swing in the context of the longer history of the Court, which mostly served to block and reverse all progressive measures until, in the case of economics, the late 30's, and, in the case of civil rights, the late 50's. Basically, liberals were spoiled in the latter half of the 20th century, and since then the court has been getting back to its roots of checking social progress. The climax of the book, the decision upholding President Obama's health care law, feels like the fulcrum of a two-volume set. Whatever happens in the next election, and the next few terms of the court, will make for an equally riveting sequel. However, I think Toobin mistakenly portrays that future as already set, as though John Roberts stopped time with his reading of the commerce clause in the health care decision. History has a way of interfering in these plans, and we are only one Clarence Thomas heart attack or further economic crisis away from everything changing again. You may not believe me when I say it, but this book is a page turner. Toobin's writing is so clear, and his familiarity with his subjects so natural, that you feel as if you know the Justices as well as he does. He follows both their biographies and careers with equal enthusiasm, and he weaves the two together to explain their most complex decisions. A must for anyone who wants to be informed about the court and understand its role and power in our society.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    If you know what "stare decisis" means and care about it, you should read this book and its predecessor, The Nine. This latest volume deals with the Roberts court and its various conflicts with the Obama administration, and I'm rating it slightly lower as it doesn't have the same historical sweep. Its scope is more like that of a very lengthy New Yorker article. What comes through here is that liberals and conservatives have very different ways of looking at judicial activism. Liberals want the l If you know what "stare decisis" means and care about it, you should read this book and its predecessor, The Nine. This latest volume deals with the Roberts court and its various conflicts with the Obama administration, and I'm rating it slightly lower as it doesn't have the same historical sweep. Its scope is more like that of a very lengthy New Yorker article. What comes through here is that liberals and conservatives have very different ways of looking at judicial activism. Liberals want the law to develop, albeit slowly, towards what the founders might want the country to become. Conservatives want it to hew closely to the founders' intent in situ, and if there are big swings in our perception or execution of that, well, sudden overthrowings of precedent or new judicial concepts are okay. Over the past ten to fifteen years, conservatives have been successful in changing the dialogue, such that even liberals feel the need to couch their arguments in 18th century terms, rather than appealing to the good of the country or the principle of letting the legislation of democratically elected officials stand as much as possible. Like Toobin's previous book, this contains some good details, like Scalia weeping at the death of Ginsburg's husband (the families had been friends for years, despite their political differences) and the efforts of junior Justices Breyer and Kagan on the Cafeteria Committee (Kagan arranged for a froyo machine). Because this book deals with a more partisan epoch, it feels more partisan itself. It certainly did not make me like Clarence Thomas any more, and it made me like Kennedy rather less.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jay Connor

    "The Oath" is an excellent discussion of the perverse, hypocritical direction the Court has been on and has seen accelerate under Chief Justice John Roberts. While Citizens v. United and the ruling on the Affordable Care Act are ostensibly at the center of this examination, much of the truth is in the periphery. Clearly it is uncontested that the Court has been moving rightward since the Reagan Administration. What is more telling is that the three most recent retirees -- Stevens, O'Connor, and S "The Oath" is an excellent discussion of the perverse, hypocritical direction the Court has been on and has seen accelerate under Chief Justice John Roberts. While Citizens v. United and the ruling on the Affordable Care Act are ostensibly at the center of this examination, much of the truth is in the periphery. Clearly it is uncontested that the Court has been moving rightward since the Reagan Administration. What is more telling is that the three most recent retirees -- Stevens, O'Connor, and Souter -- all Republican nominees had retired as fairly consistent liberal votes. This is a microcosm of the larger society -- the center has moved markedly to the right. Sandra Day O'Connor has been overheard bemoaning the excesses of the Bush administration as shamefully coming from her party. On one level this shift could be accepted as a reflection of the societal shift, but one is compelled to examine the logic map undergirding this shift. And it is here in the Alitos and Thomas' and Scalias that we see the vaunted theories of "originalism" and "textualism" as simply fronts for achieving conservative orthodox desired outcomes. We are now fully in the hands of a court whose achievement of a desired result supersedes law or precedent. Whether your analogy to the Dred Scott Court of the 1850's, or the late 1880's Guilded-Age Court or the reactionary Court of the early-1930's, we now have a Supreme Court which appears to be more in service of its benefactors & buddies than the law or society. Pity the fool.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    From the moment Chief Justice John Roberts swore in President Barack Obama in January 2009, there has been a confrontational relationship between the White House and the Supreme Court. Jeffrey Toobin believes that the basis of the hostility between the President and the Chief Justice is that one is a constitutional conservative and one one is a constitutional radical. And, in his view, it is the President who is essentially conservative on constitutional issues believing in pragmatism, compromis From the moment Chief Justice John Roberts swore in President Barack Obama in January 2009, there has been a confrontational relationship between the White House and the Supreme Court. Jeffrey Toobin believes that the basis of the hostility between the President and the Chief Justice is that one is a constitutional conservative and one one is a constitutional radical. And, in his view, it is the President who is essentially conservative on constitutional issues believing in pragmatism, compromise, and incremental change. In Toobin's view, Chief Justice Roberts want to lead a Supreme Court willing to overturn decades of decisions, ignore precedent, and undo many of the reforms reaching back to the New Deal. The high point of this conflict was in the 2011-2012 term when the challenge to the President's health-care legislation was heard by the justices. And, surprisingly, it was the Chief Justice's vote that upheld the constitutionality of that legislation. Toobin examines why Roberts voted to affirm and concludes that he is taking the long view and he wanted to keep the Supreme Court out of the 2012 election so that the Justices could renew their agenda later. The character sketches of the Justices on the Supreme Court both past and present drawn by Toobin contain some of the most fascinating portions of the book. A highly readable discussion of recent Supreme Court decisions.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    This is not quite comparable to The Nine. If you've read that one, and you should immediately do so if you have not, there will be a LOT of repetitive information in here. Also, because this book covers more recent events, there's a lot of political play by play in here that you will already know. However, Toobin is a master of teasing out the meaning of jurisprudence, of portraying the personalities of justices, and of writing beautiful words. It's still a worthwhile read. And I want a post Sca This is not quite comparable to The Nine. If you've read that one, and you should immediately do so if you have not, there will be a LOT of repetitive information in here. Also, because this book covers more recent events, there's a lot of political play by play in here that you will already know. However, Toobin is a master of teasing out the meaning of jurisprudence, of portraying the personalities of justices, and of writing beautiful words. It's still a worthwhile read. And I want a post Scalia and Gorsuch update now.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Darlene

    This book, The Oath by Jeffrey Toobin, is the story of the John Roberts Court (at least so far!) and is the follow up to Mr. Toobin's book about the Rehnquist Court, The Nine. I have to confess that I am a Court 'watcher'. I look forward to the end of each term when the latest decisions are announced. Because what happens in the Supreme Court goes virtually unnoticed much of the time, there seems to be an aura of mystery surrounding the Supreme Court and the Justices; that is one of the reasons This book, The Oath by Jeffrey Toobin, is the story of the John Roberts Court (at least so far!) and is the follow up to Mr. Toobin's book about the Rehnquist Court, The Nine. I have to confess that I am a Court 'watcher'. I look forward to the end of each term when the latest decisions are announced. Because what happens in the Supreme Court goes virtually unnoticed much of the time, there seems to be an aura of mystery surrounding the Supreme Court and the Justices; that is one of the reasons books like this one are so fascinating. In The Oath, Mr. Toobin provides a very interesting look into the workings of Chief Justice John Robert's Court; and he also provides some comparisons and contrasts between Chief Justice Roberts and President Barack Obama... giving his impressions and perhaps a few predictions about what the country might expect from these two branches of government in the coming years. Interestingly (and also a little surprisingly), there actually are a number of similarities between President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts... besides the fact that both men are intelligent and honorable, both have backgrounds in and ties to the city of Chicago; both are graduates of Harvard Law School; and both served on the Harvard Law Review. The similarities, however, end there. The differences between them helped set up the adversarial relationship that characterized the President's first term and judging from the cases the Court has agreed to hear for the current term (such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965), this adversarial relationship will most likely continue through this next term. Mr. Toobin sums up the judicial philosophies of both men perfectly and provides a lot of insight... "The greatest difference between the two concerned the work of the Supreme Court. It was John Roberts who was determined to use his position as Chief Justice as an apostle of change. He was the one who wanted to usher in a new understanding of the Constitution, with dramatic implications for both the law and the larger society. And it was President Obama who was determined to hold onto an older version of the meaning of the Constitution. Obama was the fellow who was, in the words of a famous conservative, standing athwart history yelling 'stop'." Most interesting to me were Mr. Toobin's impressions of the current justices.... as people,judges and public personalities. This book is full of stories and information about the justices, their interactions with each other and even some insight into their families. These descriptions add to the 'flavor' of the narrative Mr. Toobin creates and makes the books very enjoyable and entertaining... as well as educational. Mr. Toobin also tackles a couple of cases from the Roberts Court which were of particular interest to me... Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and the National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (Affordable Care Act). He describes step-by-step what happened in each case; described what was occurring behind the scenes with the justices and even what the thinking was on the part of the White House. He accomplished this in a way that was very easy to understand (not written in legalese) and was entertaining at the same time. If you are a Court 'watcher'like I am or even if you are just curious about the workings of the Supreme Court, The Oath is a book you will enjoy!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    OVERALL SENTIMENT: I LOVED reading this book. Even reading a book about the Supreme Court seems like it could be really boring, I found myself picking up the book as if it were a drug. STRENGTHS: (1) Toobin's sentences are short, and clear, so the sentences breeze by. (2) The book teaches you a lot of stuff, even for people who currently know next-to-nothing about the Supreme Court. A main theme is that, according to Toobin, the John Roberts Supreme Court is reviving an originalist interpretation o OVERALL SENTIMENT: I LOVED reading this book. Even reading a book about the Supreme Court seems like it could be really boring, I found myself picking up the book as if it were a drug. STRENGTHS: (1) Toobin's sentences are short, and clear, so the sentences breeze by. (2) The book teaches you a lot of stuff, even for people who currently know next-to-nothing about the Supreme Court. A main theme is that, according to Toobin, the John Roberts Supreme Court is reviving an originalist interpretation of the Constitution, asking: what did the founders think about things back in the 1700's? One such resuscitated view: Congress is ONLY allowed to legislate "commerce between states." Nothing more. As a result, the Justices have been knocking down acts of Congress and voter propositions that were meant to support things like women's rights, universal health care, non-corrupt elections, etc. (3) Toobin has insider's insight into the Supreme Court. Some of the coloring you wouldn't get anywhere else. Toobin apparently interviewed all the Supreme Court justices and something like 200 Supreme Court clerks. LIMITATIONS (1) Toobin reads the Supreme Court from a liberal perspective....Its easy to feel kind of alarmed reading this book. I'm curious how a conservative would describe the Roberts Court. So if you want a balanced view, you'll need to supplement. (2) The flow between chapters is very meandering, and so the book's chapters don't seem to fit together well. Sometimes the book seems to be about the history of the Supreme Court, sometimes about recent landmark decisions, sometimes about the Court's relationship to Obama, and sometimes even about Obama himself (separate from the Supreme Court). What do all these things have in common? Is the appropriate title for this book "Thoughts about the Supreme Court and/or Obama?" Toobin doesn't ever really fit these topics together in an integrated way. Still, Toobin's book comes across as natural, organic, and conversational. The organization wanders around in a stream-of-consciousness kind of style, but so do good conservations.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    Toobin a lawyer and legal reporter based this book on interviews with the Justices and approximately forty of their law clerks. The book is a narrative of the early years of the Roberts Court which produced a series of 5 to 4 decisions that pitted the Obama administration against the conservative Justices. The book ends with the tie breaking vote to uphold The Affordable Care Act. Toobin reveals the goal of the conservative Justices in rolling back laws on gun rights, abortion, gender discrimina Toobin a lawyer and legal reporter based this book on interviews with the Justices and approximately forty of their law clerks. The book is a narrative of the early years of the Roberts Court which produced a series of 5 to 4 decisions that pitted the Obama administration against the conservative Justices. The book ends with the tie breaking vote to uphold The Affordable Care Act. Toobin reveals the goal of the conservative Justices in rolling back laws on gun rights, abortion, gender discrimination, campaign finance and so on. The Republican Party has controlled the Court since 1953. Toobin looks at how the current makeup of the Court reflects changes in the current Republican party at large, underscoring the fallout created by the departure of the moderate Republican Justices. The most enjoyable part of the book is the human details about the Justices. The book provides a brief biography of each of the justices that has served on the Robert Court. I recently read “The Roberts Court” by Marcia Coyle which covered the same time frame. Coyle went into detail about the cases and the law, Toobin proves more information about the Justice personal life and beliefs than does Coyle. Reading both books provided me with a better understanding of the current court than reading just one of the books. Toobin’s thesis is what he calls the competing visions of Roberts and Obama. Both are intelligent, both products of Chicago, both graduated of Harvard Law School but they have a different view of the meaning of the Constitution. Obama believes the Court should be stable and make gradually changes. Roberts believes in rapid changes to the conservative ideals. I found it interesting that Toobin credits Justice Thomas as the father of the Tea Party. Toobin points out that the Republican Party has made it a priority to put its people into judgeship in all categories of State and Federal courts. Obama has been negligent in appointing Federal Judges. Toobin states a Republican Senator complained “how are we supposed to block appointments if Obama does not appoint them.” Robertson Dean did a good job narrating the book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Noelle

    Not nearly as well-written, I think, as his previous magnum opus, The Nine. It read sort of like, "I have to write this book; I'm going to write this book; OK, I'm writing this book; ho hum....man, I'm not really interested in writing this book...." the whole way through. The thing that got me to finish this one is my interest in the case the Court decided in this period. Like his last work, it gives a nice overview of the constitutional issues that were decided and what the lay of the constitut Not nearly as well-written, I think, as his previous magnum opus, The Nine. It read sort of like, "I have to write this book; I'm going to write this book; OK, I'm writing this book; ho hum....man, I'm not really interested in writing this book...." the whole way through. The thing that got me to finish this one is my interest in the case the Court decided in this period. Like his last work, it gives a nice overview of the constitutional issues that were decided and what the lay of the constitutional land is, as a result of the decisions during the Roberts' Court period (roughly 2008-present). For that, it was helpful, but a bit of a let-down after the riveting, beautifully styled "The Nine."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    A really good insight into the U. S Supreme Court. Toobin shows the development of the legal philosophy of each of the judges and how they have applied that to the recent, most controversial cases. Great explanations of "Citizens United," "Lily Ledbetter," gun control cases, abortion cases, and Obamacare case. Quite accessible for the non-lawyer interested in legal issues. A really good insight into the U. S Supreme Court. Toobin shows the development of the legal philosophy of each of the judges and how they have applied that to the recent, most controversial cases. Great explanations of "Citizens United," "Lily Ledbetter," gun control cases, abortion cases, and Obamacare case. Quite accessible for the non-lawyer interested in legal issues.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    "Centrism" manufactured by the political theater is purgatory. Imagine getting stuck between Wall Street/managerial class bribe-recipients on one side and Wall Street/extraction monopolies bribe-recipients on the other side. What a nightmare. And no, it does not help knowing each of their personalities. "Centrism" manufactured by the political theater is purgatory. Imagine getting stuck between Wall Street/managerial class bribe-recipients on one side and Wall Street/extraction monopolies bribe-recipients on the other side. What a nightmare. And no, it does not help knowing each of their personalities.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Book

    The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin “The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court” is the riveting book that covers the evolution of the Supreme Court with a focus on how it relates to President Obama’s administration. It discusses many of the hot-button issues of today by the Roberts-led Supreme Court while making precise historical references. It provides enlightening characterizations of the current justices including recent retirees. Award-winning The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin “The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court” is the riveting book that covers the evolution of the Supreme Court with a focus on how it relates to President Obama’s administration. It discusses many of the hot-button issues of today by the Roberts-led Supreme Court while making precise historical references. It provides enlightening characterizations of the current justices including recent retirees. Award-winning author, senior legal analyst at CNN and Harvard Law School, Jeffrey Toobin, has written an expertly crafted book for the masses that goes inside the Supreme Court and provides readers with the current struggles of constitutional interpretation. This enlightening 352-page book is composed of twenty-three chapters within five parts. Positives: 1. A beautifully written book that covers the evolution of the Supreme Court to its current form. Enlightening, provocative and stimulating. 2. Riveting topic in the hands of a skilled author. 3. Even-handed and fair. A book of this ilk must cover the main angles of the issues to be fair and it does. Toobin does this book, dare I say it...justice. 4. The book is full of captivating tidbits, personality traits and facts about the justices. I really enjoyed how the author masterfully interweaved the personalities and philosophies of each one of the justices within the context of court cases. 5. The book provides readers with terrific insight on what it entails to be a Supreme Court justice. The preparation, intelligence and caution it takes to be an elite within elite. “It is important to be identified enough with one party to have patrons, but not so closely that you have enemies.” 6. The main philosophical differences between liberal and conservative Supreme Court Justices. Many fascinating stories and keen insight. As an example, the idea of unenumerated rights (liberals), and the concept of textualism (conservatives)... 7. Biographies of President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts. 8. Fascinating court cases. Many examples throughout the book. From celebrities (Anna Nicole Smith) to Health Care Reform. Of course, the paramount case of Brown v. Board of Education 9. Ruth Bader Ginsberg her contributions and her quest to give women a voice. The “Thurgood Marshall of the feminist movement.” 10. One of my favorite chapters, "Wise Latina" of course I'm talking about the nomination process of the 111th Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor. As district court judge she saved baseball. I also enjoyed the recent tradition of her colleagues greeting her with the silent treatment, just like baseball when a rookie phenom hits that first homerun. 11. Issues of taxation (corporations as people), labor issues, right-to-life versus choice, gun control, race, and finance reform are among the many interesting topics covered. 12. The case of Citizens United that illustrates the themes of corporate power, freedom of speech and the intersection of law and politics. The deep political implications. 13. The question that changed a case and perhaps American history. Censorship. 14. The evolution of the Supreme Court to its current more conservative makeup led by Chief Justice Roberts. 15. The interesting parallels between Roberts and Kagan (the Frozen Yogurt Justice). 16. The swing-vote power of Justice Kennedy. 17. The White House’s reactions to Supreme Court rulings. How new laws can counter “bad” rulings and the issue of separation of powers. The confrontations between the Obama White House and the Roberts Supreme Court. 18. An interesting look at the retired justices and their influences. To name one of the three, the impact of Sandra Day O’Connor. Her stunning retirement and its deep-felt implications. Her views on Chief Justice Roberts. 19. The nomination and confirmation process of a Supreme Court Justice. How it has evolved over the years. The politics involved. In depth look at Sotomayor and Kagan’s nomination process. 20. The impact of the Tea Party: antitaxation, antiregulation, and ant-abortion. “Above all, Tea Party members were originalists, dedicated to restoring the modern government of the U.S. to the views, as they understood them. Of the eighteenth-century framers.” 21. The controversial selection of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. His rulings, his impact to the evermore conservative court. The attempt to get Thomas off the health care case. His customary silence. 22. Court cases involving “separation” of church and state. 23. The health care reform issue, the debate the battle, discussions on individual mandates, the results and the stunning decision from Chief Justice Roberts. The ramifications of the decision. 24. Roberts’ agenda, his goals for his tenure as chief justice. On the other hand, the apparent lack of interest of the President in judicial nominations. 25. Notes and bibliography provided. Negatives: 1. Charts and lists of Supreme Court justices would have added value. 2. Having to buy more books for friends and family. In summary, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The combination of fascinating topics in the hands of a lucid storywriter makes for a great insightful book. From the blunder of the Oath of Office to the surprising decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, this book covers everything as it relates to the Obama presidency and the Supreme Court. It also provides fascinating historical narratives of the Supreme Court including political themes of paramount importance. All the major hot-button themes are covered with great skill and Toobin does a wonderful job of covering multiple angles of issues. This book turned out to be an intellectual treat. If you have any interest in the Supreme Court this is the book for you. I highly recommend it! Further suggestions: “The Nine” by the same author, “The Conservative Assault on the Constitution” by Erwin Chemerinsky, “The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction” by Linda Greenhouse, “Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir” by John Paul Stevens, “The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court” by Bob Woodward, “Supreme Conflict” by Jan Crawford Greenburg, “The Supreme Court” by Jeffrey Rosen, “Making Our Democracy Work” by Stephen Breyer, “The Majesty of the Law” by Sandra Day O’Connor and “Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality” by Richard Kluger.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rick Wilson

    I want more. I don’t think I’ve ever realistically thought of law as being interesting. But this book and its predecessor are riveting. This book, and “the nine“ Are a pair of books that have fundamentally changed the way I interpret the world. Outside of a few tomes of literature, I’m not sure I would say that about many books. It’s got me driving around Texas thinking about constitutional law. It also has me being a pretentious doof referencing supreme court cases in casual conversations. I was I want more. I don’t think I’ve ever realistically thought of law as being interesting. But this book and its predecessor are riveting. This book, and “the nine“ Are a pair of books that have fundamentally changed the way I interpret the world. Outside of a few tomes of literature, I’m not sure I would say that about many books. It’s got me driving around Texas thinking about constitutional law. It also has me being a pretentious doof referencing supreme court cases in casual conversations. I was on a zoom call with some friends, we got to talking about gun control after the shooting last week here in Austin. And while the opinions differ wildly, from “free guns for Jesus” to “Jesus was a pacifist you sick fuck” it came back to the constitutionality of the right to bear arms, and there is an interesting parallel between the limits on free speech and the ideas around gun control. You can’t yell fire in a theater, and so forth and so on. I never realized how differently you can interpret the same parts of the constitution. And how “out over our skis” we are on other parts. The level of divisiveness around various constitutional interpretations is really astounding. It’s also amazing how distant the supreme court seems, but how pervasive it can be in our day-to-day lives.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ms.pegasus

    Luring the opposition into committing a foul, isolating the opposition's strongest players, running out the clock — all are part of a winning strategy — employed in the decision process of the Supreme Court. They have always been a part of life inside the Beltway, but in today's polarized climate, these strategies have assumed new importance. The initial legal assault on gun control laws did not emanate from the N.R.A., but from a libertarian think tank. Robert Levy, an attorney with the Institut Luring the opposition into committing a foul, isolating the opposition's strongest players, running out the clock — all are part of a winning strategy — employed in the decision process of the Supreme Court. They have always been a part of life inside the Beltway, but in today's polarized climate, these strategies have assumed new importance. The initial legal assault on gun control laws did not emanate from the N.R.A., but from a libertarian think tank. Robert Levy, an attorney with the Institute of Justice, wanted to challenge the D.C. law that prohibited the purchase of a handgun in Washington D.C. Levy himself didn't even own a gun. His team assembled a group of plaintiffs, but only one, Dick Heller, was perfect. Heller was a D.C. police officer who wanted to procure an additional gun for home use. The D.C. Court ruled in his favor and in 2008 the appeal went to the Supreme Court as D.C. v. Heller. The Court, in a predictable 5-4 decision declared the D.C. gun buying ban unconstitutional. Roberts assigned the opinion to Scalia who seized the opportunity to promote originalism, a formerly obscure theory of legal interpretation. The suit was a brilliant strategy by Levy. The timing was perfect. The appeal would have received less sympathy in the Rehnquist Court with its law-and-order concerns. Scalia had long been a proponent of originalism, but for the past 20 years, his arguments gained little traction. Suddenly, the idea that the second Amendment guaranteed an individual's right to own guns had become status quo. “Heller represented the culmination of a political, legal, and public relations offensive that was many years in the making. Scholars, lawyers, politicians, and activists created a new understanding of the Second Amendment that eventually commanded five votes on the Supreme Court.” (p.115) Toobin traces the historical trail leading up to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In 2003 the Rehnquist Court had upheld McCain-Feingold election financing restrictions in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission. However, after Alito replaced O'Connor, the Conservative movement sensed new opportunity. A case that started out arguing that a purported documentary (Hillary, the Movie) was not a corporate funded campaign message was transformed into a decision that declared that corporations, like individuals, had free speech rights under the First Amendment. By June 2009 after the preliminary decision, Stevens stated bluntly: “'Five Justices were unhappy with the limited nature of the case before us, so they changed the case to given themselves an opportunity to change the law.'” (p.189) Because the reasoning of the Court relies on such a complex and contradictory web of history, the cases are difficult to cover in the popular press. Toobin uses a full thirty pages to cover the conflicting arguments, political posturing, and ultimately tortured reasoning that permitted the Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act, while chipping away at many foundational underpinnings of Federal authority. However, like a sports contest, attention is more easily focused on the win/loss column. Toobin realigns the reader's perspective. Increasingly, dissent can be a powerful opinion changer. Ginsburg's dissent in the argument over the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act calls attention to the partisan majority's casual dismissal of decades of legal precedent (Gonzales v. Carhart, 2006). In 2007 her articulate dissent in Ledbetter v. Goodyear spurred Congress to enact remedial legislation. The quality of logic, use of rhetoric framed in layperson's terms, and forcefulness of delivery can all have a galvanizing effect. Even retired justices, such as Sandra Day O'Connor are weighing in publicly (Chapter 16 — “The Retired Justices Dissent). The effect can be equivalent to shouting “The emperor as no clothes,” to a public that is all too often mystified or dismissive of decisions by the Court. Toobin laments the underutilization of legal talent by the Obama administration. While he praises the nominations of Sotomayer and Kagan, he clearly regrets that Diane Wood who sits on the 7th Circuit Court was twice passed over as a nominee. He describes her intellect and individuality in glowing terms. In 2004 at New York University she forcefully challenged the validity of originalism. Likewise, he gives special attention to Neal Katyal, the acting Solicitor General after Kagan's nomination. His astute understanding of the political climate won a favorable ruling from Jeffrey Sutton, a former Scalia clerk and George W. Bush appointment on the D.C. Circuit Court. Both Wood and Katyal were believed too controversial to back, even when the Obama administration thought it had the votes. Despite the veil of secrecy that surrounds the Court's deliberations, Toobin has delved into the workings of the Supreme Court in a meaningful way. His prose is both balanced and entertaining despite the thicket of cases and opinions. Obama is still frequently criticized even by members of his own party as being aloof, distancing himself from the political process, and unwilling to invite friendships across the aisle. Toobin disagrees. He writes an entire chapter titled “Unrequited Bipartisanship of Barack Obama.” Instead, he faults the Administration for it's own lack of vision and an uninspired passivity. “With their success, driven by people, ideas, and money, conservatives proved just how much the Constitution can change, and it did. Obama and his party were the ones who acted like the Constitution remained inert; they hoped the Constitution and the values underlying it would somehow take care of themselves. That has never happened, and it never will. Invariably, inevitably, the Consitution lives.” (p.298) NOTES: June 2014 article by Neal Katyal http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/27/opi... April 2014 profile of Diane Wood in Law360 http://www.law360.com/articles/527839...

  19. 4 out of 5

    LemonLinda

    This was such an important book to read for those who are concerned about the direction of this nation. The Supreme Court, the background on the justices who did and who now sit on the court and the reasons for and ramifications of recent decisions are all included in depth. Toobin has a way of writing what could be such dry material in an easy to understand and quite readable manner. It was to me enlightening as to how recent decisions have and likely will continue to change the direction of th This was such an important book to read for those who are concerned about the direction of this nation. The Supreme Court, the background on the justices who did and who now sit on the court and the reasons for and ramifications of recent decisions are all included in depth. Toobin has a way of writing what could be such dry material in an easy to understand and quite readable manner. It was to me enlightening as to how recent decisions have and likely will continue to change the direction of this nation. The court has moved under the leadership of Chief Justice Roberts firmly to the right which scares me on likely upcoming decisions on deregulation (especially furthering any attempt for campaign finance reform), on gun control and on revisiting the issue of abortion. Toobin gives us a clear picture as to how and why the court is moving in this direction and what that means for future decisions. I have to say that I personally miss the days when Justice O’Connor served the court as a moderating influence.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Porter Broyles

    There are a number of good and bad things that could be said about this book. I felt that it finished strong and had moments of great insight. Unfortunatelty, the authors strong point of view/biases obfuscated the contents of the book itself. It is hard to fully trust an author who constantly reveals that he isn't objective on the subject. Starting the book I didn't realize that Toobins was a CNN/New Yorker analyst. I read the book because it was a buddy read in a Supreme Court group. It didn't t There are a number of good and bad things that could be said about this book. I felt that it finished strong and had moments of great insight. Unfortunatelty, the authors strong point of view/biases obfuscated the contents of the book itself. It is hard to fully trust an author who constantly reveals that he isn't objective on the subject. Starting the book I didn't realize that Toobins was a CNN/New Yorker analyst. I read the book because it was a buddy read in a Supreme Court group. It didn't take me long to realize that there author carried an agenda. While I'm giving the book 2 stars right now, I may move that up to 3 stars. The book is well written and informative.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Pearl

    Here Toobin, a Harvard-trained lawyer, CNN legal analyst, and senior staff writer at "The New Yorker" follows up his book on the Renquist Court with one on the Roberts Court, whose history, of course, is still being made. As with "The Nine," primarily about the Renquist Court, Toobin mixes insights about the Supremes personal history and character traits with legal analyses of their decisions/opinions to give us an entertaining and enlightening look at where the Supreme Court is today and how it Here Toobin, a Harvard-trained lawyer, CNN legal analyst, and senior staff writer at "The New Yorker" follows up his book on the Renquist Court with one on the Roberts Court, whose history, of course, is still being made. As with "The Nine," primarily about the Renquist Court, Toobin mixes insights about the Supremes personal history and character traits with legal analyses of their decisions/opinions to give us an entertaining and enlightening look at where the Supreme Court is today and how it got there. In doing so, he also sets forth the overarching theme of his book, namely that the interpretation of the law is not value free; it is tied to and influenced by political values and beliefs. Despite the title, the book's focus is not on Obama v. the Supreme Court, although the subtext is clearly that the President's appointments are of utmost importance because they can change the meaning of the law and thus, in some ways, the direction of the country. Toobin also makes the case that Obama is the conservative Constitutional lawyer, tending toward stare decisis whereas Roberts, his testimony at his Senate confirmation hearing notwithstanding, is a change agent - he is attempting to move the Court in the direction of his own personal goals. That's his case; whether he makes that case, you can decide. We get a good discussion of Souter and O'Conner's disillusionment with the sharp rightward turn of the Court. Both were appointees of a Republican President, but both felt the Roberts Court was overreaching, moving too fast to the right and they resigned from the Court with considerable frustration. Bush v. Gore, Toobin tells us "broke David Souter's heart. The day the music died,[Souter] called it." O'Conner, of course, supported that decision, but she was a moderate Republican legislator before becoming a justice and a gradualist in re-thinking past decisions. She was far from in agreement with the direction the Court was going. Perhaps especially interesting is Toobin's showing of Scalia's greatest victory, that of moving the Court toward his originalist view of the Constitution. Also interesting is his opinion that Thomas is even more a committed originalist than is Scalia. In fact, Toobin asserts that Thomas has influenced the direction of the Court much more than is apparent from his rather sullen silence during questioning. Although he rarely has been assigned to write the opinion for big, controversial cases (his opinions are too extreme), he often writes concurring opinions in which he introduces new and radical ideas and these ideas gradually have found their way into serious consideration in later cases. Of all the justices, Toobin says, Thomas is the least committed to stare decisis. Or, to quote Scalia, Thomas "does not believe in stare decisis period." Again, as in "The Nine," Toobin's likes and dislikes of the individual justices is transparent. He clearly has a warm place in his heart for Ginsburg and continues (also apparent in "The Nine") to dislike Kennedy whom he regards as pompous. I appreciated learning more about the two newest members of the Court, Sotomayor and Kagan, and what influence they have had on the Court. Most of the major or most interesting cases that have been heard by the Roberts Court are analyzed and most often we see how the Court's decisions reveal the Court's rightward shift. Among the cases discussed are: Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire, Parents Involved in School Integration, Citizens United, and NFIB v. Sebelius (Affordable Care Act). Toobin concludes by telling us that Roberts has clearly made the Court his. He expresses great admiration both for Roberts' administrative and legal skills and for his brilliant and clearly written opinions. But Toobin also reasserts his belief that, despite Roberts decision on the Affordable Care Act, Roberts remains "a skillful and powerful advocate for the full Republican agenda; he is still the candidate (in robes) of change." He faults Obama's lassitude toward filling the vacancies on the lower courts and the Democrats generally for failing to stake out a liberal agenda as the Republicans have done for a conservative one. This is an insightful book for anyone wishing to understand how the Supreme Court functions. It's also interesting and is written in non-legalese.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brian Willis

    I can't possibly recommend this book highly enough for any person interested in getting an inside glimpse of how the Roberts Court works. Toobin is the foremost expert on the Court, but this book's brilliant thesis, that the conservatives on this Court are actually the judicial activists and the liberals are the preservationists, is completely validated and substantiated by its journey from the appointment of Roberts to the decision on the Affordable Care Act. We begin with the oath of office, so I can't possibly recommend this book highly enough for any person interested in getting an inside glimpse of how the Roberts Court works. Toobin is the foremost expert on the Court, but this book's brilliant thesis, that the conservatives on this Court are actually the judicial activists and the liberals are the preservationists, is completely validated and substantiated by its journey from the appointment of Roberts to the decision on the Affordable Care Act. We begin with the oath of office, so glaringly blundered at Obama's inauguration. The circumstances of that blunder are truly errors of miscommunication rather than sinister intent, but due to pride and ignorance, both men stumbled over its words. Then, the embarrassing need to re-administer the oath. This sets the White House and the Court on a path of conflict that is not overtly sought, but necessarily complicated by the agenda of the White House and the composition of the Court. Scalia grows more overtly political, Kennedy swings based on his libertarian roots, O'Connor and Souter are replaced by Sotomayor and Kagan, and the Court makes several critical rulings, beginning with the Citizens United case and ending with the validation of the Affordable Care Act. The strength of this book is the exposition of critical legal reasoning, inner court maneuvering, and a supreme readability. Though 298 pages of legal background, I devoured this book. Utterly fascinating. It appears that the conservative judiciary members are the true activists because they set about overturning or ignoring precedents established several decades ago in order to validate their restrictions of government "intrusion" into religious, Second Amendment, criminal, and commercial areas that suit the conservative agenda. That is, until Roberts switches at the last minute to save the Affordable Care Act and is scorched by the conservatives. This and The Brethren by Woodward are the two best books about a single period of Supreme Court adjudication and both essential reads. (Footnote: also intriguing to see that Merrick Garland was considered by Obama at the time of Kagan's nomination but was not selected because he was seen as too much of a concession option to the Republicans! This was published in 2012, so I'm intrigued to see how Obama and Toobin feel about Garland in 2016, and stunned by how much more extreme the Republican party office holders are now than they were just four short years ago).

  23. 4 out of 5

    Whitney

    I really enjoyed this book even though I had to stop reading it before bed because I got so riled up about the current Supreme Court! Toobin's argument is that the Roberts' court is dominated by a new breed of conservatives who claim they are protecting the original intent of the Constitution, but in fact are extremely activist judges who are rewriting centuries worth of law. When it comes to the judiciary, Toobin argues that Obama is the conservative and Roberts is the activist with Obama defer I really enjoyed this book even though I had to stop reading it before bed because I got so riled up about the current Supreme Court! Toobin's argument is that the Roberts' court is dominated by a new breed of conservatives who claim they are protecting the original intent of the Constitution, but in fact are extremely activist judges who are rewriting centuries worth of law. When it comes to the judiciary, Toobin argues that Obama is the conservative and Roberts is the activist with Obama deferring to precedent and Roberts pursuing a radically different understanding of the Constitution and the Supreme Court than has been seen this century. He describes each of the justices on the current court as well as the recent retirees, Sandra Day O'Connor and John Paul Stevens. He describes each justice's path to the court and the evolution of their judicial philosophy. Toobin is a great storyteller; he makes campaign finance law riveting. One of the most timely chapters is Toobin's discussion of the Second Amendment. Toobin points out that the Supreme Court never recognized an individual right to bear arms until very recently. In discussing a gun control case from 2008, Toobin writes "Scholars, lawyers, politicians, and activists created a new understanding of the Second Amendment that eventually commanded five votes on the Supreme Court. Notwithstanding his denials, Scalia had demonstrated precisely how the Constitution is not dead at all - but a vibrant, living thing. In other words ,there was less to the originalism revolution than met the eye. Originalism was no more principled or honorable than any other way of interpreting the Constitution. It was, as [the Heller case] demonstrated, just another way for justices to achieve their political goals." (115) The judicial activism of the current court is a real shift. In describing this shift, Toobin writes "This case, like so many others, revealed how the parties had switched places at the Supreme Court since the 1960s. Then, it had been the Democrats who were the activists, striking down laws that were not to their liking. Now it was the Republicans." (260) This book is fascinating. My only picky objective is that when referring to Chief Justice Roberts in the possessive, Toobin writes Roberts's and not Roberts'.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nicole R

    The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin 4 stars There are some topics that you just expect to be dry. It cannot be avoided, it is just the nature of the beast. I would have totally put the Supreme Court in that category before I was introduced to Toobin's work in The Nine and now The Oath. Toobin makes the highest court in the land come to life with backstories of the cases, the lawyers, and the justices. He shows that their stories are not dry and boring, but impas The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin 4 stars There are some topics that you just expect to be dry. It cannot be avoided, it is just the nature of the beast. I would have totally put the Supreme Court in that category before I was introduced to Toobin's work in The Nine and now The Oath. Toobin makes the highest court in the land come to life with backstories of the cases, the lawyers, and the justices. He shows that their stories are not dry and boring, but impassioned and more political than we may be comfortable with. Each chapter is centered around a different Supreme Court case and it is the perfect length to keep your attention while not being digestible in a single sitting. I will say, just as I did with The Nine that Toobin is very much a liberal Democrat. He remains respectful throughout but you can plainly tell through his tone that he supports an interpretation of the Constitution that is more closely aligned with liberals. I don't necessarily think that is a bad thing - we all have our points of view - but it is something to be aware of when you start. The most disappointing part for me was the scope of the book. I thought it was going to be about the Supreme Court decisions during Obama's first term (it was published in 2012) but it was kind of a mish-mash of cases. Some of them ranged back to the W. Bush Administration and there was even one from the Clinton Administration. They did all impact at least the campaign of Obama but I wish the connection would have been a little stronger. I also wish there would have been more details about the case on Affordable Care Act but I could probably read a whole book on that, especially if Toobin wrote it :) Overall, these are wonderful books that shed light on the Supreme Court and the decisions it makes.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    "I'd feel a whole lot better if one of them had ever run for Sheriff." That was the response House Speaker Sam Rayburn shared with his fellow Texan, then-Vice President Lyndon Johnson, upon hearing Johnson rave about the brilliance of each of President John F. Kennedy's top aides. I had much the same reaction after reading Jeffrey Toobin's 'The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court.' After putting down the book I missed retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor all the more. O'Connor, a mod "I'd feel a whole lot better if one of them had ever run for Sheriff." That was the response House Speaker Sam Rayburn shared with his fellow Texan, then-Vice President Lyndon Johnson, upon hearing Johnson rave about the brilliance of each of President John F. Kennedy's top aides. I had much the same reaction after reading Jeffrey Toobin's 'The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court.' After putting down the book I missed retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor all the more. O'Connor, a moderate Republican, was the last member on the High Court to have actually ran for public office, to have served as an elected official (she had been a member of the Arizona State Senate). In this regard, O'Connor was in the mold of many past Supreme Court justices who had, at one time or another, served in elected office. O'Connor was a pragmatist, not given to legal dogma, understanding of the practical implications the High Court's actions would have on ordinary Americans. This perspective is missing today. It is completely absent from the reigning conservative majority of Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito. And Toobin captures this recent, consequential development brilliantly in his sequel to 'The Nine.' 'The Oath' is another tour de force. The writing is quintessential Toobin: Sharp, incisive, engaging. Toobin, much like David McCullough, has a gift for making non-fiction read like a compelling novel. You may not agree with Toobin's assessments but you will be hard-pressed to put the book down. The bottom-line: Highly, highly recommended.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kirsti

    Informative, appealing, left-leaning account of the Supreme Court in the last few years. A good read, especially for election season. Republicans have done a much better job than Democrats when it comes to defining what is acceptable ideology in a federal judge and then making sure that judges who hew to that ideology are the ones who get confirmed. And the GOP is reaping the benefits of that now. Overlooked turning point: When the Obama administration was figuring out how to defend the Affordabl Informative, appealing, left-leaning account of the Supreme Court in the last few years. A good read, especially for election season. Republicans have done a much better job than Democrats when it comes to defining what is acceptable ideology in a federal judge and then making sure that judges who hew to that ideology are the ones who get confirmed. And the GOP is reaping the benefits of that now. Overlooked turning point: When the Obama administration was figuring out how to defend the Affordable Care Act, Elena Kagan was solicitor general. She was careful to attend no meetings and give no advice related to the ACA. Why? She knew she had been runner-up the last time a Supreme Court seat was vacant. If she got on the court, she would have to recuse herself if she'd participated in the ACA defense in any way. Because of her foresight, she was able to cast the deciding vote on the case, and that's the only reason Obamacare still exists today. Interesting trivia: The least senior Supreme Court justice has to serve on the cafeteria committee. The court's cafeteria is a gloomy, windowless room, and there are always arguments about the food. Kagan managed to get a frozen yogurt machine for the place, and nobody could shut up about it. Even Roberts praised her for it a couple of times. Kagan started calling herself "the frozen-yogurt justice."

  27. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    Its possible Jeffrey Toobin is quickly becoming my favorite legal-nerd author. Its hard to tell, this is still a new genre of reading for me. This is effectively a sequel to the fabulous book The Nine, which tells the story of the Supreme Court under Rehnquist. This book covers the Roberts era and runs it in parallel with Barack Obama, who is basically Roberts Harvard Law contemporary. I actually really enjoyed the Pres. Obama portions of the book discussing his legal philosophies -- for instanc Its possible Jeffrey Toobin is quickly becoming my favorite legal-nerd author. Its hard to tell, this is still a new genre of reading for me. This is effectively a sequel to the fabulous book The Nine, which tells the story of the Supreme Court under Rehnquist. This book covers the Roberts era and runs it in parallel with Barack Obama, who is basically Roberts Harvard Law contemporary. I actually really enjoyed the Pres. Obama portions of the book discussing his legal philosophies -- for instance, he could find a lot of ground with conservatives in his general opposition to using the Courts as a vehicle for social change, the book paints Chief Justice Roberts as more likely to alter the way things are with the courts than Obama, who has always favored legislated change. If I gave The Nine 4 stars and almost five, this book is a little like 1/2 a star less - I feel like there was less "insider" insight into this compared to the Nine. But Toobin is a compelling writer and turns SCOTUS cases that turn on even on the minutiae of Civil Procedure into something anyone (not just a law geek) would find fascinating to read. I feel like these books would be fun reads for any law student about to take Con Law or any American wanting to know about this least discussed branch of government.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Diane Dubay

    Don't let the name "Obama" fool you. This is the best, so far, of Jeffrey Toobin's books on the Supreme Court, a peek at the "uber-politicization" of the Supreme Court that tells us, not what to think, but what to think about. My thinking about this well-written book is about where the extreme politicization of the Supreme Court has gotten us: the first woman appointee left a job she loved to care for her ailing husband (no Supreme Court justice of the male persuasion has ever resigned to care f Don't let the name "Obama" fool you. This is the best, so far, of Jeffrey Toobin's books on the Supreme Court, a peek at the "uber-politicization" of the Supreme Court that tells us, not what to think, but what to think about. My thinking about this well-written book is about where the extreme politicization of the Supreme Court has gotten us: the first woman appointee left a job she loved to care for her ailing husband (no Supreme Court justice of the male persuasion has ever resigned to care for an ailing wife), another woman (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) inserted far more rational, far more compelling wisdom into Roe v. Wade than the original opinion writer could come up with; and petulant Alito, who snubbed a protocol get-together with a new President he didn't like, and Scalia, who gives speeches mainly to Catholic organizations, Souter, who quit and went home, cursing the darkness instead of lighting one little candle. This is a terrific, terrific book, -- a book for those who graduated from high school after classes in Civics were removed. It belongs at the top of the reading list of Civics classes that Sandra Day O'Connor wants restored to every high school in the country.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bill P.

    While the profiles of the current Supreme Court justices are very engaging and the recaps of the issues and decisions of the Court in the last four years are very well presented, it was the reinforcement of the importance of who gets to select the judges that caused me to have the greatest concern about the upcoming election. Appointed for life for heavens sake, these nine people are in a position to basically overturn any decision the constitutionally elected congress puts in place. The Court i While the profiles of the current Supreme Court justices are very engaging and the recaps of the issues and decisions of the Court in the last four years are very well presented, it was the reinforcement of the importance of who gets to select the judges that caused me to have the greatest concern about the upcoming election. Appointed for life for heavens sake, these nine people are in a position to basically overturn any decision the constitutionally elected congress puts in place. The Court is already legislating from the bench, thus the self-serving disasterous Citizens United decision, and it is apparent Roberts intends to fully continue to do so into the future, particularly if Romney should get elected and replace the aging Ginsberg and Souter with two more like Alito or Thomas. Even if the republicans completely botch the next four years and the nation comes to its senses and Democrats regain control, a Roberts Court dominated by the far right will be able to derail any legislation that doesnt favor the .1%. I am ranting I know, but in the two weeks since I finished this book, I have not been able to stop thinking about what is perhaps the most important issue of this election, and the fact that it hardly comes up at all in campaign discussions.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Parker F

    A great update to the excellent THE NINE, and probably more interesting because of reading the earlier work. Toobin succeeds in making a non-legally minded reader feel like a Constitutional scholar and in making familiar, recent history seem like a cliffhanger. I regard the book as fair; however, some partisans might disagree with the characterization of Roberts as a judicial activist or the statement that Anita Hill's allegations against Clarence Thomas are almost certainly true. The more "cons A great update to the excellent THE NINE, and probably more interesting because of reading the earlier work. Toobin succeeds in making a non-legally minded reader feel like a Constitutional scholar and in making familiar, recent history seem like a cliffhanger. I regard the book as fair; however, some partisans might disagree with the characterization of Roberts as a judicial activist or the statement that Anita Hill's allegations against Clarence Thomas are almost certainly true. The more "conservative" wing of the court, though not as unified as some might expect, has gradually been adopting an interpretation of the Constitution that until recently would be considered extremist. These Justices seem to have little regard for past rulings of the court or the principles by which the government has been operating for generations. Nonetheless, Toobin makes you understand and appreciate the bases of these opinions even if you, and Toobin himself, strongly disagree with them.

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