counter create hit Secret Lives of the Supreme Court: What Your Teachers Never Told You about America's Legendary Judges - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Secret Lives of the Supreme Court: What Your Teachers Never Told You about America's Legendary Judges

Availability: Ready to download

Drugs, Adultery, Bribery, Homosexuality, corruption—and the Supreme Court?!?   Your high school history teachers never gave you a book like this one! Secret Lives of the Supreme Court features outrageous and uncensored profiles of America’s most legendary justices—complete with hundreds of little-known, politically incorrect, and downright wacko facts. You’ll discover that Drugs, Adultery, Bribery, Homosexuality, corruption—and the Supreme Court?!?   Your high school history teachers never gave you a book like this one! Secret Lives of the Supreme Court features outrageous and uncensored profiles of America’s most legendary justices—complete with hundreds of little-known, politically incorrect, and downright wacko facts. You’ll discover that:       •  Hugo Black was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.     •  Benjamin Cardozo likely died a virgin.     •  John Rutledge attempted suicide by jumping off a bridge.     •  John Marshall Harlan organized regular screenings of X-rated films.     •  Thurgood Marshall never missed an episode of Days of Our Lives.     •  Sandra Day O’Connor established the court’s first Jazzercise class.     •  And much, much more!   With chapters on everyone from John Jay to Samuel Alito, Secret Lives of the Supreme Court tackles all the tough questions that other history books are afraid to ask: How many of these judges took bribes? How many were gay? And how could so many sink into dementia while serving on the highest court in the land? American history was never this much fun in school!


Compare
Ads Banner

Drugs, Adultery, Bribery, Homosexuality, corruption—and the Supreme Court?!?   Your high school history teachers never gave you a book like this one! Secret Lives of the Supreme Court features outrageous and uncensored profiles of America’s most legendary justices—complete with hundreds of little-known, politically incorrect, and downright wacko facts. You’ll discover that Drugs, Adultery, Bribery, Homosexuality, corruption—and the Supreme Court?!?   Your high school history teachers never gave you a book like this one! Secret Lives of the Supreme Court features outrageous and uncensored profiles of America’s most legendary justices—complete with hundreds of little-known, politically incorrect, and downright wacko facts. You’ll discover that:       •  Hugo Black was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.     •  Benjamin Cardozo likely died a virgin.     •  John Rutledge attempted suicide by jumping off a bridge.     •  John Marshall Harlan organized regular screenings of X-rated films.     •  Thurgood Marshall never missed an episode of Days of Our Lives.     •  Sandra Day O’Connor established the court’s first Jazzercise class.     •  And much, much more!   With chapters on everyone from John Jay to Samuel Alito, Secret Lives of the Supreme Court tackles all the tough questions that other history books are afraid to ask: How many of these judges took bribes? How many were gay? And how could so many sink into dementia while serving on the highest court in the land? American history was never this much fun in school!

30 review for Secret Lives of the Supreme Court: What Your Teachers Never Told You about America's Legendary Judges

  1. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    I’m tired of reading the same old names (Cardozo, Warren, Harlan) on case after case after case and not having an identity to attribute to keep them straight. Also, SCOTUS is super cool because it wields such enormous power over our lives and it can be our refuge from the executive branch (HEM HEM HEM) or it can be its evil right hand, so it’s important to know who these people are. This book does a fantastic job of bringing up interesting tidbits from their lives/career significance. (The rest I’m tired of reading the same old names (Cardozo, Warren, Harlan) on case after case after case and not having an identity to attribute to keep them straight. Also, SCOTUS is super cool because it wields such enormous power over our lives and it can be our refuge from the executive branch (HEM HEM HEM) or it can be its evil right hand, so it’s important to know who these people are. This book does a fantastic job of bringing up interesting tidbits from their lives/career significance. (The rest will just be interesting things about each justice, so may not be of use to you if you’re trying to decide if you should read this). So. Without further ado, may I present… the justices. John Jay. He’s the 18th century equivalent of those white people who say “I’m not racist! I have a black friend!” but then whine about how the only reason they didn’t get into XYZ school was because of affirmative action and “reverse racism.” John Marshall. He’s The Supreme Court Chief Justice To End All Others. Also, such a ragamuffin that his own neighbor thought he was a servant and tossed him some change (he quietly took it and didn’t say anything). He made all the other justices move into one big frat house, where they got drunk and played drinking games literally all the time, including while hearing cases if the weather annoyed him enough. He could jump six feet in the air. Basically, he’s Batman and Robin Hood and Jesus. Moving on. John Rutledge. By the time he became chief justice, he was a raving lunatic, so they kicked him off toute de suite. Then he tried to kill himself. Didn’t work, but he spent the rest of his life hermiting. Roger Taney. Raging racist. You’ve heard of Dred Scott? Yeah, that was this guy. He and Lincoln hated each other. First Catholic. His dad killed a guy at dinner one time. Oh, and he scammed the US out of some money when he was secretary of the treasury. Salmon Chase. Governor of Ohio. Not super clever, but real nice guy. Big abolitionist, and appointed the first black attorney to argue before SCOTUS. Wanted to be a president, had no interest in the Supreme Court. Was also secretary of the treasury, and was responsible for the first federal currency. (Note: Chase National Bank is named after him, curiously). He also put “In God We Trust” on the money. He and Lincoln had the weirdest relationship. Chase is gunning for his job, but Lincoln bestows the job of secretary of the treasury on him. Chase RUNS AGAINST Lincoln, his boss, on re-election. Lincoln pretty much thinks he’s adorable and a political toddler and just the cutest little pufferfish, and inexplicably appoints him chief justice. Cute story: he was always defending fugitive slaves in Ohio, so a group of poor black churchgoers pooled their resources and presented him a silver pitcher. He pointedly used that pitcher to serve lemonade to pro-slavery visitors to the governor’s mansion. Snaps to Chief Justice Chase. John Marshall Harlan I. Wrote the great dissent to Plessy v. Ferguson (the case that said “separate but equal facilities for different races is okay”) but only an abolitionist for political reasons. Also, hated Chinese-Americans. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Oh, Oliver. I live in Boston atm and Bostonians (especially Bostonians at law school) loooooove to talk about their Oliver. He seems really annoying, and belonged to that pretentious Victorian upper class whose members called themselves the Boston Brahmins. Besties with Henry James, whom I adore, so he gets extra credit for good taste. Actively hates humanity, à la Jonathan Swift. Supreme Judicial Court of MA judge, who Roosevelt appointed to SCOTUS. Big oops. Roosevelt later said he “could carve out of a banana a judge with more backbone” than Holmes. Thought social reform was for losers (literally said “Doesn’t this squashy sentimentality of a big minority of our people about human life make you puke?”) and if you’re in an oppressed minority, sucks to suck but it’s not his problem and the world never changes anyway. The only thing he thought worthwhile was war. And he’s a eugenicist. Basically, Ollie was tiresome af. His dad was dope though: founded the Atlantic magazine, coined the word “anesthesia,” huffed ether all the time, and inspired the character of Sherlock Holmes. Fun fact: the skivvy old geezer was impotent (which is unfortunate given his wife’s name: Fanny Dixwell). Charles Hughes. Type A. Hermione Granger. Moderate, sane. Normal, introverted. James McReynolds. Arguably the biggest dick in SCOTUS history. Arrogant, racist, and sexist. He’s like the human Disneyland of bigotry. (Small wonder none of his fellow justices even went to his funeral). Opposed the New Deal and worker’s comp. His nickname was Scrooge. There was a lot of political disagreement from 1910-1940 but what they all agreed on, no matter what party they belonged to, was that McReynolds was a selfish, boorish, prejudiced piece of shit. One SCOTUS justice quit after 6 months because he couldn’t work with McReynolds another day. People literally said that McReynolds was living evidence that a loving God doesn’t exist. When (the first Jewish justice) Brandeis was appointed, McReynolds didn’t speak to him for three years. Mind you, they worked together all day, every day. And McReynolds would stand up and walk out of the room whenever Brandeis spoke. And he referred to him as “the Orient.” When the second Jewish justice was appointed, Cardozo, McReynolds read a newspaper during the ceremony. And covered his face whenever Cardozo read an opinion. When the third Jewish justice (Frankfurter) was appointed, he actually uttered the words “My God, another Jew on the court!” and skipped that ceremony altogether. But don’t worry guys, McReynolds didn’t just hate Jews. He hated black people at least as much (“ignorant, superstitious, immoral”), Germans to a lesser extent, and women as well. (When female attorneys appeared before the court, he whined, “I see the female is here again” when he wasn’t denying them hearings altogether or walking out of the room when they spoke). He also hated smokers, wrist watches on men, and red nail polish on women. Plus, he was a hunter. Louis Brandeis. The ACLU, in human form. Ice cream addict, whimsical guy. William Howard Taft. Another Ohioan! Hello, compatriot. Accidentally became president when all he really wanted was to be on SCOTUS. Which he later got. Benjamin Cardozo. Only served for a few months, but he left his mark. Writes weird opinions and uses words strangely. Hates Italians and Japanese. His bestie, Learned Hand (who spawned the infamous Hand formula) suggested Cardozo died a virgin and implied he was gay. Fun story: he got seasick on a boat, and another justice asked if he could do anything to help. Cardozo quipped, “Yes. Overrule the motion.” Hugo Black. Self-described hillbilly from Alabama and a member of the KKK (in fact, he was the “Kladd” of his “Klavern” aka leader of his local chapter or something. God give us all the eloquent wordsmithery of white racists). Believed in the absoluteness of freedom of speech. Big on the doctrine of incorporation (that is, that the Bill of Rights should apply to state as well as federal governments). Filibustered a bill to outlaw lynching (ARE YOU KIDDING ME) and tried to take away black Americans’ right to vote. And he wrote the infamous Korematsu opinion upholding the incarceration of Japanese Americans in concentration camps (for make no mistake, that is what they were). Thought gays would ruin America. When his wife died, married his secretary who was half his age. On the other hand, he voted in favour of Brown v. Board of Education and as a result had to wear a bulletproof vest when he visited his native Alabama, which passed a law refusing to allow him to be buried anywhere in the state. Felix Frankfurter. A self-contradictory guy. Founded the ACLU (literally), but is responsible for compelling schoolchildren to say the pledge of allegiance, even if this violated their religious beliefs. Believed in judicial restraint (as opposed to judicial activism). Seems cute and peppy in a zany old grandfather with a bitchy streak kind of way. Anti-government surveillance, possibly because the US government had once considered him a communist and eavesdropped on him all the time. William Douglas. Fucked around, drank a lot, off his rocker in the best way possible (thought trees and rivers should be allowed to sue if they felt threatened by overdevelopment: “The voice of the inanimate object should not be stilled!” Sierra Club v. Morton.). As a child, worked as an errand boy for brothels (I have so many questions). Hated rich people, big business, and The Establishment. Wore a cowboy hat and called his law clerks “the lowest form of human life” (unsurprisingly, they called him “shithead” behind his back). Nixon h a t e d him and tried/failed to impeach him for all his sexy times with his secretaries. Frankfurter thought Douglas was the worst person he’d ever met. Total flaneur (hiked the Appalachian Trail, a personal dream of mine) and a cheerful liberal (voted with the majority to legalize abortion in Roe v. Wade). I like this guy. Strangely, best friends with the awful Black? I don’t understand this. Frank Murphy. Like Cardozo, also probably a virgin, also probably gay. Lovely dissent in the horrible Korematsu decision, and anti-capital punishment. Serious Irish Catholic. Like dancing and riding horses. Didn’t smoke, drink, or have coffee/tea, and ate lots of fruits and veggies. But only really liked Jews when they were the underdog. Moralistic. Robert Jackson. Never went to law school; took sabbatical from SCOTUS to serve as the US’s chief lawyer in the Nuremburg Trials. Hated Black and Douglas. Earl Warren. Another curiously contradictory guy. Had random af pets like eagles, burros, and sheep. Dad was bludgeoned to death, murder still unsolved. As AG of California, he was super anti-Communist and spearheaded the internment of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps. Later majorly regretted this. Later led the Brown decision. Super humble- when he saw people in the hallway he’d say things like “My name is Earl Warren, what’s yours?” ...As Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. Adorable. Frankfurter, he of maximum judicial restraint, wasn’t a fan, though; Warren pretty much just followed his heart on the bench. John Marshall Harlan II. Grandson of John Marshall Harlan I. RBG’s hero. Super, super dignified guy, pornos excepted. Allies with Frankfurter. Major federalist. Friends with Douglas and Black. Amazing legal mind. Wouldn’t even vote in presidential elections because he was super obsessed with the separation of powers. Strangely enough, of all people, JMHII was the one to arrange screenings of porn films in the SCOTUS basement “to help justices define obscenity.” Mmhmm. I’ll roll with that. When, in his old age, he was blind, he relied on his friends among the justices to narrate, and exclaimed “You don’t say! By George! Extraordinary!” as he heard about the sexual gymnastics. Potter Stewart. Mostly known for saying of pornography, “I know it when I see it.” And indeed, he would know; he had served in Casablanca in the Navy during WWII and spent hours of watching porn with his shipmates. He called this his “Casablanca Test.” William Brennan. The most liberal judge in SCOTUS history. Pro-workers’ rights. Called the McCarthy trials “Salem witch hunts.” Humble, funny, friendly. Short and leprechaunish, he greeted his fellow justices with “Hiya, pal!” Judicial activist to the max. Anti-capital punishment. Best friends with Warren. Frankfurter (judicial restraint) wasn’t a fan. Thurgood Marshall and Brennan were basically the same person, rarely ever voting apart; clerks called them “Justice Brennan-Marshall.” Byron White. Played in the NFL, no judicial experience, but he was one of JFK’s school buddies. Weirdly conservative for a JFK nominee. Voted against the Miranda requirement and against Roe v. Wade. Voted (in the majority) to uphold Georgia law criminalizing anal and oral sex. Abe Fortas. Knew how to work connections to get the jobs he wanted. Socially liberal, economically conservative (in accordance with LBJ’s wishes). Accepted some shady bribes, which led to his resignation, but overall seems quirky and endearing. Called Justice Black out on his racism, too. Black obviously wasn’t a fan. Thurgood Marshall. First black justice. Why the fuck is every SCOTUS justice named Marshall? As a lawyer, he argued the Brown case before SCOTUS. Prankster, womanizer, drinker, dancer, partier. Big liberal, and Brennan’s bestie. Loved Days of Our Lives. Originally named Thoroughgood, decided to cut it down. Called Burger an “enigma” and preferred his successor, Rehnquist, who, though they disagreed, Marshall respected for his conviction. Loved smoking and drinking. When asked if he had a problem with alcohol, Marshall said, “Hell yes. Not enough! Not enough to go around!” My BOY. Warren Earl Burger. (Note: not the same as Earl Warren. Fuck these names.) Super wishy-washy, rarely came prepared and constantly changed his answers. Wildly pompous, self-aggrandizing, etc. Desperately wanted to wear the white wigs like British judges. Compared gay sex to rape, and gay men to Jack the Ripper. Fond of gun control. One of the most unpopular justices of all time. Harry Blackmun. Basically synonymous with Roe v. Wade, since he authored the sweeping decision. A humble introvert. Childhood friend of Burger’s, like best friends. They grew up six blocks apart, had double dates, and Blackmun was best man at Burger’s wedding. Blackmun was initially a conservative, too; however, after Roe, he came to be known as a liberal (supporting affirmative action and privacy rights, and changing his position on capital punishment). The decision ruined their friendship and Blackmun refused to attend Burgur’s funeral. For 20 years, drove a bright blue Volkswagon Beetle, and specified that at his funeral, his ashes be carried to the cemetery in the front seat of his Beetle. Lewis Powell. Extremely moderate conservative, polite, gentlemanly, dignified, sensible, if outmoded. Refused to swear. Homophobic, but I almost can’t mad at him, because I feel like my sweet, friendly grandparents would be saying the same things. And he later changed his answer in the Bowers case criminalizing sodomy, as well as his rulings supporting capital punishment. William Rehnquist. Briefly dated Sandra Day O’Connor in college. Anti-civil rights. But he’s considered an effective chief justice and was well-regarded by his co-workers. Loved gambling; played poker and arranged betting pools on sports, the Kentucky Derby, and presidential elections. Heavily addicted to sedatives (Placidyl and Valium), which caused him to slur his words and forget things. Ten years into his term, he checked himself into a hospital, where he reported hearing voices saying they were going to kill the president. Rehnquist then tried to escape through the lobby in his pajamas. Later kicked the habit. Showed up to Clinton’s impeachment in robes inspired by a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. Name means “reindeer twig.” John Paul Stevens. (Still alive, but retired.) Walked to the beat of his own drum. Dad was a big-time embezzler. Pro-capital punishment, anti-affirmative action, pro-choice, pro-gay rights. Loves silk bow ties, never clip-ons (and sometimes mentions them in his opinions). Loves to quote his other opinions. Has a private jet, so he’d often leave DC and work from his Florida condo. Sandra Day O’Connor. (Still alive, but retired.) First lady on SCOTUS. Grew up on a cattle ranch and had a pet bobcat. Moderate conservative. When her dad met her future husband, he castrated a bull in front of him, skewered the testicles, cooked them up, and fed them to him (he accepted gamely). Antonin Scalia. (Died.) Avid hunter, obviously. Conservative, Republican, originalist (Constitution was written a certain way and we must read it literally and narrowly and not update it with the times). Anti-choice, pro-religious expression, pro-PATRIOT act. Rude to lawyers who come before SCOTUS. Italian Catholic with 9 kids (which he described as “playing the Vatican roulette.”) David Souter. (Retired, but still alive) Pining for the pre-technology age, he writes his opinions with a fountain pen. Very nice to old ladies. Apparent conservative, but ended up voting liberal on lots of cases, another major swing vote (such as in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, reaffirming Roe v. Wade). Likes nature. Extremely good mimic. Everyone who knows him agrees he’s from another century. Unmarried, there are (as yet unfounded) rumors that he, too, is gay. Anthony Kennedy. (Current.) Super straight arrow, so much so that his own father ofered him $100 if he would do something illegal (so he dropped a piece of gum off the Washington Monument as a teenager). Skinny nerd. During college, his dad gifted him with a bottle of whisky… which Kennedy then gargled to soothe a sore throat. A major swing vote in SCOTUS. Loves citing foreign court opinions, as well as Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Pro-gay rights, anti-capital punishment, but otherwise moderate conservative. Clarence Thomas. (Current.) Second black SCOTUS justice. Once joined a Catholic seminary, but after hearing classmates cheer at the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., quit. Had a serious drinking problem. Big fan of Ayn Rand (lol) and forces new staff members to watch the movie version of The Fountainhead during lunch hours. Peed in a coke bottle in college and famously declared “Somebody put a pubic hair in my Coca-Cola!” (This would come back to bite him in the ass during his SCOTUS nomination). Also during that nomination, when asked if he had ever used illegal drugs, he (this is spectacular) said “I don’t know.” Anita Hill accused him of sexual harassment and porn addiction, still unclear whether that was accurate, but either way he tore her apart in his memoir. Grew up speaking Geechee, not English, which is why he frequently stays silent during oral arguments. Hates the NAACP. His Corvette’s license plate reads “REZ IPSA” (as in “res ipsa loquitur”). QueenRuth Bader Ginsburg. (Current.) AKA the Notorious RBG. Second woman, and first Jewish woman. Loves opera, and, in spite of diametrically opposed viewpoints, is close friends with Scalia. They regularly attend the opera together. Likes classic movies, horses, water skiing, and gulf. Speaks fluent Swedish. Gets “giddy” after one glass of wine. Stephen Breyer. (Current.) Arrested once while in undergrad at Stanford for underage drinking. Moderate liberal. Terrible writer. Amateur architect who helped design Boston’s new federal courthouse. John Roberts. (Current chief justice) He was *literally* that kid who fucked up the curve. Just unnecessarily overachieving. Moderate conservative. Super dadcore. He probably makes dad jokes and wears ugly jeans at home. Samuel Alito. (Current). Scalia’s ideological twin (hence his nickname “Scalito”). Really conservative. Teetotaling, wet blanket in college. Anti-choice and and anti-affirmative action. Criminal hard-ass, big on national security, thinks little of privacy rights. [Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan are not included, as the book was published in 2009, the same year Sotomayor was appointed and 2 years before Kagan]. And now for the real question: WHO’S NEXT?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Christina Mitchell

    I think the first item the author wants me to mention is that the U.S. Supreme Court Building has a basketball court on its top floor referred to as "the highest court in the land." The author repeats this little gem within the biographies of every Justice noted to have used the court. The first time it's cute. Thereafter, it becomes annoying. (For Mr. Schnackenberg: LOLOLOL! There's your laugh. I get the joke and now I'm moving on.) The book tells biographical stories about Justices from the Cou I think the first item the author wants me to mention is that the U.S. Supreme Court Building has a basketball court on its top floor referred to as "the highest court in the land." The author repeats this little gem within the biographies of every Justice noted to have used the court. The first time it's cute. Thereafter, it becomes annoying. (For Mr. Schnackenberg: LOLOLOL! There's your laugh. I get the joke and now I'm moving on.) The book tells biographical stories about Justices from the Court's inception in 1789 through the confirmation of Justice Alito. It's fairly up to date, but obviously leaves out two of the greatest Justices now sitting: Justice Sotomayor and Justice Kagan. I was thrilled, however, to read about one of my heroes, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who was turned down for a clerkship following her graduation at the top of her class at Columbia Law School by Justice Felix Frankfurter and Justice Learned Hand (yes, that's his name) because she was a woman. Faced with nearly impenetrable sexism throughout her distinguished career, Justice Ginsburg finally became "the other woman" joining Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the bench in 1993. Sexism still prevailed despite their inclusion. When Chief Justice William Rehnquist wanted to know why women were still complaining about inequality with Susan B. Anthony's image adorning the $1 coin (since out of circulation), Justice Ginsburg almost came undone forcing herself not to blurt out, "No, Your Honor, tokens won't do." She's my favorite, and not only because she shares my love of mystery novels. Other titillating information available in the book: Justice Harlan was the Supreme Court Porn Commissioner having set up a dedicated theater in the basement of Supreme Court Building so the justices could try to met out exactly what pornography was. It was a very popular venue among the Justices. Justice Harlan adored his honorary position sending clerks to attend the showings when he was unable and directing the clerks to report back from detailed notes. Justice Thurgood Marshall disliked President Reagan so much he refused to consider the President vetting him to succeed retiring Chief Justice Warren Burger. Justice Marshall exclaimed, "I wouldn't do the job of dogcatcher for Ronald Reagan," then instructed a clerk, "If I die while that man's president, I want you to just prop me up and keep me voting." Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is honored at the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas. Justice Clarence Thomas clearly believes he's a redneck and his biography proves to me the guy was not only guilty of sexual harassment but is also a vindictive ass. He is truly inappropriate to be sitting on the bench. The book is fun! It took me awhile to read because I have been in the midst of trying to get through a doctoral program. This book, however, is perfect for such a situation because each biographical vignette of tantalizing quips and tidbits is approximately five pages in length. I could read about one or two justices each time I got tired of my course work, work, or research without a great deal of commitment. The interludes pepped me right up so I could continue forth trying to save the world. _____________________________________ P.S. I bought the book used online. Somehow, I ended up with three copies. It was no big deal since I only paid $1 for each of them. If you want a free copy, let me know. I'll eat the postage.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Frank

    Entertaining. I actually found it at the dollar store. Lots of oddball trivia to help flesh out the Supreme Court. For example, they used to have periodic showings of pornographic movies in the basement of the Supreme Court, so the justices could get a clearer sense of precisely what was and was not obscene. Or that Justice Blackmun, who drove an old VW bug until his death, had his ashes transported to Arlington on the front seat of a VW bug. Good stuff, especially for a US History teacher who i Entertaining. I actually found it at the dollar store. Lots of oddball trivia to help flesh out the Supreme Court. For example, they used to have periodic showings of pornographic movies in the basement of the Supreme Court, so the justices could get a clearer sense of precisely what was and was not obscene. Or that Justice Blackmun, who drove an old VW bug until his death, had his ashes transported to Arlington on the front seat of a VW bug. Good stuff, especially for a US History teacher who is always in need of extra anecdotes.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I am a total Supreme Court buff. I love reading dry tomes about the history of the Supreme Court, even if it takes me awhile to get through them. Luckily, this one is anything but dry. Picking out only the juicy bits, Schnakenberg picks out the most interesting justice of the 18th, 19, and early 20th century and then highlights all justices on the current court (except recently appointed Sonia Sotomayor, who is covered in his blog), as well as the recent Court members, the late William Rehnquist I am a total Supreme Court buff. I love reading dry tomes about the history of the Supreme Court, even if it takes me awhile to get through them. Luckily, this one is anything but dry. Picking out only the juicy bits, Schnakenberg picks out the most interesting justice of the 18th, 19, and early 20th century and then highlights all justices on the current court (except recently appointed Sonia Sotomayor, who is covered in his blog), as well as the recent Court members, the late William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O'Connor. I suppose we should expect such utterly readable breezy fair from the author of Christopher Walken: A to Z, The Secret Lives of Great Authors, and The Encyclopedia Shatnerica, but what's really surprising is just how informative this book is. Schnakenberg's concise, yet earthy style quickly gets to the heart of important Supreme Court cases such as Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade, explaining who voted which way and what important precedents the case set. All this while still managing to make the Supreme Court supremely entertaining and even funny. I highly recommend this one to anyone who has even the slightest interest in American politics.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Vincent Bugliosi once wrote that while most people instinctively hate politicians and lawyers, they tend to automatically respect judges, although almost all judges are lawyers and many are former politicians. To get over that syndrome--and for a clue as to why life in the US is so screwed up--I recommend reading this book. The authors are decidedly liberal--their favorite Justice seems to be William Brennan, who was able to unite the court's left wing in a way his more flamboyant colleague Will Vincent Bugliosi once wrote that while most people instinctively hate politicians and lawyers, they tend to automatically respect judges, although almost all judges are lawyers and many are former politicians. To get over that syndrome--and for a clue as to why life in the US is so screwed up--I recommend reading this book. The authors are decidedly liberal--their favorite Justice seems to be William Brennan, who was able to unite the court's left wing in a way his more flamboyant colleague William O. Douglas could not do--but they're open-minded enough to agree with Clarence Thomas that he got a raw deal at his confirmation hearings. They offer some interesting revisionist views, calling Hugo Black a phony whose progressive reputation is largely undeserved. Quibbles department: there's a reference to "Lord Byron's 'Rape of the Lock'" (silly me, I thought it was by Alexander Pope) and to Alito playing Peppermint Patty in his school production of YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN (that character did not appear in that show, although the character just-plain Patty did).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gary Braham

    This book falls somwehere between a serious book that examines issues in detail, and those books that give you a paragraph here and there one intersting topics. So it's not quite something that you would read from 2-3 minutes at a time, and its not a educational textbook either. There is a 3-4 page capsule on each of the justices they cover, ranging from the birth of the Court, to the present day. Then you get a handfull of prapgraph long stories from their lives or time on the court. The storie This book falls somwehere between a serious book that examines issues in detail, and those books that give you a paragraph here and there one intersting topics. So it's not quite something that you would read from 2-3 minutes at a time, and its not a educational textbook either. There is a 3-4 page capsule on each of the justices they cover, ranging from the birth of the Court, to the present day. Then you get a handfull of prapgraph long stories from their lives or time on the court. The stories are interesting, and very easy to unerstand. You don't have to be a history major or follower of politics and the law to understand the stories. You're not going to learn enough to have a deep understanding of who these people are, and what it is like to serve on the Court, but you will learn some intersting facts and stories.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    As others have said the binding on the book leaves a lot to be desired. It's not a book that I would buy for the list price of $17.99. However if you can get it from the library or as a bargain book then it's worth it. It starts off by reviewing the noted Supreme Court justices from the past and ends with the current members of the Supreme Court. It gives facts from their lives and cases they are known for. Then it gives short blurbs about them like they may have been gay or anti-semite or a big As others have said the binding on the book leaves a lot to be desired. It's not a book that I would buy for the list price of $17.99. However if you can get it from the library or as a bargain book then it's worth it. It starts off by reviewing the noted Supreme Court justices from the past and ends with the current members of the Supreme Court. It gives facts from their lives and cases they are known for. Then it gives short blurbs about them like they may have been gay or anti-semite or a bigot. It gives you the facts to back it up. It truly isn't what you learned in schoool. However it does keep your interest. I would recommend this book to anyone that's a history buff of little known facts or anyone interested in the court.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    I have never read anything by Robert Schnakenberg before, but from his writing I can assume that he is about 20 years old, full of himself, and clearly was not an English major. I expected this to be a fun, chatty, informal book and I suppose it is. But have a little respect, man! I strongly dislike how he repeatedly describes mental illness (saying that Supreme Court Justices are "raving lunatics" is tacky and offensive.) The book also goes right for the gossip and shady dealings without even a I have never read anything by Robert Schnakenberg before, but from his writing I can assume that he is about 20 years old, full of himself, and clearly was not an English major. I expected this to be a fun, chatty, informal book and I suppose it is. But have a little respect, man! I strongly dislike how he repeatedly describes mental illness (saying that Supreme Court Justices are "raving lunatics" is tacky and offensive.) The book also goes right for the gossip and shady dealings without even a shred of support. I know this is not meant as a treatise on judicial behavior, but this book is just tacky and mired in rumor. Flip through the book if you like, but don't go out of your way.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shayne

    My only disappointment with this book is that the binding came apart after one gentle reading. I am careful with my books. I don't fold them backwards and very rarely even lay them down open. I have never had a book fall apart on me so quickly. The book was fun to read. I felt that the humor was very good except for the one chapter on the obese judge. I think that the author went a little too far with the fat jokes. Other than that though I found the book informational and amusing. Even though th My only disappointment with this book is that the binding came apart after one gentle reading. I am careful with my books. I don't fold them backwards and very rarely even lay them down open. I have never had a book fall apart on me so quickly. The book was fun to read. I felt that the humor was very good except for the one chapter on the obese judge. I think that the author went a little too far with the fat jokes. Other than that though I found the book informational and amusing. Even though there is a lot of adult content I will be passing this on to my 16yo daughter. I hope that she will also find it interesting and maybe even learn something.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    This book gives light biographies of various Supreme Court Justices past and present. Each biography lasts a few pages and focuses on the quirky and interesting aspects of the Justices' personal lives, rather than their legal activities. Of course, not much detail can be given in such short lengths, but the book is engaging and really serves to humanize the Justices. People interested in quirkier aspects of the law and history will likely enjoy this book, regardless of their own political views.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Oliver Bateman

    A nifty, readable synthesis of the best bits from various judicial biographies and tell-alls. Secret Lives doesn't claim to be high art or great history, but it's a fun diversion for trivia-obsessed legal scholars. Lay readers probably couldn't care less about Frank Murphy's homosexuality, Benjamin Cardozo's celibacy, O. W. Holmes Jr.'s impotence, or Charles Evans Hughes' beard, though.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    The rating for this book averages a three--four stars for the information contained and two stars for the writing. It's written in a chatty manner with asides to the reader that I ultimately found annoying. However, the information about Justices who have served on the Supreme Court was fascinating. Some good, some bad, some cranky, some crazy. We've had them all.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amy Jones

    Unfortunately, little bits of useless trivia are only fun when they're about people whose names you actually recognize. For me, most judges who have sat on the Supreme Court don't fit that description. However, once we got to the judges of the last 30-40 years or so, I enjoyed it a lot more.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Interesting collection of anecdotes, quirks, and humor about the US Supreme Court. This book is quick and the short chapters make it easy to put down and pick up again. The emphasis here is on fun and trivia -- this is not a dusty tome (if the cover art didn't already give it away).

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tomi

    Fun book with lots of trivia about the SC. The author isn't a great writer - lots of errors in grammar, and some typos, but still interesting for a trivia nut.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    Interesting tidbits, but terribly written. Rent don't buy.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jeremiah Cioffi

    Light and amusing.

  18. 5 out of 5

    John

    Interesting factoids, but not much else.

  19. 5 out of 5

    dcbcd

    This was just as interesting as the others in the series. Gives a humorous and somewhat cheeky perspective on the history of our supremes. I recommend it as a fast read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This was a very fun post bar exam read. It's filled with all kinds of interesting and little known facts about past and present supreme court justices.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Colin Birge

    A silly pick-it-up-and-put-it-down book. The history is a little shaky in spots, but the stories are fun. Law students everywhere are probably keeping this book as bathroom reading material.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    I love this series. It does a wonderful job of making history more fun and memorable.

  23. 5 out of 5

    David Tomblin

  24. 5 out of 5

    Abbyarthur

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

  27. 5 out of 5

    Philip

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  29. 5 out of 5

    John

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Riedel

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.