I bought a copy of this book at the Supreme Court gift shop last summer. Yes, there is a gift shop and yes, it is as delightfully dorky as it sounds. I sat in the actual Courtroom, where the long, high bench resides, along with the 9 tall chairs sitting behind it. I honestly couldn’t believe they just let people line up then walk in there, sit down and listen to a little history lesson given by a very nice man in a very funny jacket. But they did. You can’t get near The White House and yet, possibly the most important building in these entire United States, sits open all day long, welcoming anyone who wants to have a look around. I love America. We make inaccessible places that don’t really matter and leave open places any lunatic would happily burn to the ground.
Anyway, The Supremes’ Greatest Hits by Michael G. Trachtman is an excellent primer on all things Supreme Court. He avoids the weird, gossipy tone of some books about the Court and makes an effort to keep the explanations concise. Legal people generally have trouble with that. Trachtman posits that SCOTUS might very well be the most powerful institution not only in America but the world. Reading through the cases he presents, it’s often hard not to agree.
There are a lot of books available about The Supreme Court and I have read a few of them. One was so complicated I never made it past the preface. This book managed to explain not only why the Court is important, but how it became important. It became important because it ruled that it was important.
Hubris or genius or a little legal alchemy involving the two? You decide. Oh, and the Supreme Court’s website is fun to poke around in.