Thomas Sowell

While many will find this the most devastating chapter in the book, "Supreme Conflict" is a major contribution to a general understanding of the way the Supreme Court works -- and the way politics works in selecting people to nominate to become justices.

Author Jan Crawford Greenburg understands both liberal and conservative arguments within and about the High Court, and tries to get the reader to understand those arguments, rather than leading the reader to favor one argument or the other.

Although she is a journalist, the scholarship that went into this book is of a higher caliber than many academic scholars achieve in writing about the law or about the Supreme Court.

"Supreme Conflict" also has a human dimension that offers valuable, even if depressing, insights into the internal politics of the Supreme Court and the politics of the process by which nominees to that court are selected and confirmed.

The mystery of how Justice Sandra Day O'Connor reached some of her incoherent opinions becomes easier to understand when her own words reveal what a petty and shallow person she was on the Supreme Court, with her eye firmly fixed on the little picture and oblivious to the momentous implications of her dubious decisions.

This book also throws light on the decisions of a succession of Republican presidents, who repeatedly nominated people to the Supreme Court whose votes as justices turned out to be the opposite of what these presidents expected.

These conservative Republican presidents, often with their eyes on the little picture as well, loaded the court with liberal justices. But Democratic presidents put only one conservative there in nearly half a century, Justice Byron White.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate