The Supreme Court does not exist for feel-good photo ops. The difference between the best and the second best can be momentous in the lasting consequences of Supreme Court decisions.
Some of the most disheartening glimpses inside the Supreme Court in "Supreme Conflict" are of the petty considerations that influence how some justices decide issues of historic consequence.
Not only Justice Anthony Kennedy's flip-flops on Constitutional issues but also his expressed concern over what public reaction would be to the Supreme Court's decisions betray someone who cannot keep his eye on the ball, even when it is the biggest ball around.
Justice Kennedy's fascination with foreign law as a basis for decisions about American law suggests a disregard for the Pandora's Box that this opens. It might also suggest someone overly impressed with being part of the worldwide legal Olympians who need to impose from on high the way the rest of us should live, regardless of what the Constitution of the United States says.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's over-sensitive reactions to criticisms of her decisions by dissenting justices -- whether William Brennan on the left or Antonin Scalia on the right -- also comes out in "Supreme Conflict."
Even after her retirement, Justice O'Connor refused to deal with the substance of Justice Scalia's criticisms, on grounds that he apparently did not express them nicely enough for her taste. Whether those criticisms were valid seems not to have been her concern.
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