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Sunday, January 01, 2006 

In the Mail: A Court Divided

Look, I stole Glenn Reynolds' "I'm getting a new book" intro-phrase. While perusing the list of books that I have to buy for spring semester classes, I came across A Court Divided by Mark Tushnet. This is one of the books for my American Constitutional History course. I decided to just order it off of Amazon and start reading it now. I'm probably going to have it finished before the first day of class. It's an examination of the Rehnquist Court, focusing on a few of the members and some of the big legal issues that they've tackled. I love reading this stuff. Give me a full day without a ringing phone or appointment to attend, and I'll have this thing knocked out by dinner time.

I read the first few pages that Amazon provides online. It's pretty clear that Tushnet thinks that Rehnquist's personal views are reflected in a few controversial memos that he wrote while clerking for Justice Jackson. Some of these race issues remained "prickly" even until the death of the former Chief. Hours after Rehnquist's death, Alan Dershowitz famously or infamously accused Rehnquist of lots of bad things while being interviewed on the news. "He generally opposed the rights of gays, women, blacks, aliens, and religious minorities. He was a friend of corporations, polluters, right wing Republicans, religious fundamentalists, homophobes, and other bigots," Dershowitz later elaborated in print. Not a fan, apparently. Take it with a grain of salt though. He continues with this...
Rehnquist served on the Supreme Court for thirty-three years and as chief justice for nineteen. Yet no opinion comes to mind which will be remembered as brilliant, innovative, or memorable.
That's pretty much crap. Rehnquist's opinions in Lopez and Morrison are incredibly important and have changed how the Commerce Clause is viewed. I think that even a non-Rehnquist fan would say that those opinions, which kickstarted the long dead heart beat of federalism, are "memorable."

Anyway, I look forward to reading the book. As far as the law goes, this stuff is really what interests me. I'd love to just study the Supreme Court for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, I don't know who would pay me to do that. I'm accepting offers, in case you know of anyone.

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  • I'm Steve
  • From Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
  • "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." P.J. O'Rourke
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