Book Review: Nine Black Robes: Inside the Supreme Court’s Drive to the Right and its Historic Consequences, by Joan Biskupic

Ms. Biskupic, the Senior Court Reporter for the New York Times, puts an almost endless number of facts and information into this book of 333 pages, augmented by 45 pages of notes and another 21 pages of a comprehensive index. Nevertheless, it's fascinating and well worth the read. All nine justices, of course, are appointed for life terms, barring criminal or other banned offenses while in office. President Obama named two, both women, and should have been able to nominate one additional justice (Merrick Garland)  but was stonewalled for nearly the final year of his two terms by Mitch McConnel. That led to President Trump's *three* nominees in a single one-year term, all of which were vetted and promoted by the conservative Federalist Society.  In President Biden's current term in office, the President has nominated a single justice to this time.

A striking mismatch from the American population lies in the religious affiliation of the Supremes: presently six Catholics, two Jews, and one Protestant. This ratio of 67%-22%-11% is quite dissimilar to the makeup of the U.S.'s religious makeup (34% Protestant, 23% Catholic, 21% non-specific Protestant, and 2% Jewish and 2% Mormon. The Court simply does not represent America in that regard.

The current Court has voted fairly consistently along two main blocs, with a five-to-three majority for the religious conservatives, with Justice Roberts, also a conservative, somewhat in the middle but also aligning with the majority in many if not most cases for a six-three majority. Personalities are highlighted in Ms. Biskupic's book including the ire, if not outright anger at times of Alito, wearing a "coat of grievance," as well as Gorsuch's "anti-regulation" agenda. In addition, Justice Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings, marred by charges of sexual aggressiveness if not outright rape against Christine Ford, left a stamp of resistance on Kavanaugh's perspective.

The author certainly is no fan of President Trump, "The most polarizing President in modern history," outlining the many crimes for which he has been, and currently is charged, as well as his demands of "constant loyalty" of subordinates. In addition, his resistance to making his previous tax returns public and his "petulant tweeting" are listed, along with Trump's unwillingness to accept the results of his defeat in 2020. Her larger themes include the Red-Blue cleavage of voting in different sections of the country - reflecting deep differences in religious and political outlooks, the partisan alliances, and abandonment of precedent of previously decided cases (Stasis Destaris) by the Supreme Court, which has prioritized Religious Freedom and Deregulation of various legal sorts.

4 Responses

  1. JK James George
    From Anon-1: Surely interesting.
  2. JK James George
    From Anon-2: An excellent summary of the demise of democracy in the U.S. Government of the people for the people by the people is an absolute joke.
  3. JK James George
    From Anon-3: Excellent review, I just left a comment on your blog. It was a little tricky, figuring out how to do so. I ended up having to log into the account to leave a comment, I guess that is customary, though. Well done!
  4. JK James George
    Fron Anon-3.... additional comments: An excellent review on a controversial subject in one of the most divided times in our country's history. I might add Ruth Bader Ginsburg, rest her soul, waited too long to retire, and unfortunately passed, leaving an open seat during Trump's polarizing single term. Contrary to our country's premise of separation of church and state, the conservative evangelical movement has no place as a majority in the highest judiciary seats.

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