... meaty, often scintillating and sometimes scary ... It’s a dazzling feat, especially considering the quick turnaround time for publication. Granted, readers outside the rarefied world of appellate litigation may find some passages a steep climb. That’s not a criticism; digging into the judicial and legislative history that has brought us to where we are today on essential issues like voting rights is a key component of 'the work' that thoughtful activists have been correctly warning we need to do. With the stakes for individual constitutional rights and even American democracy as high as they are right now, it behooves us to follow the details wherein the proverbial devil lies, and Greenhouse has the skill to help readers do exactly that.
No one can recount judicial decisions as accessibly and intelligently as Greenhouse. She does an excellent job of describing the court’s jurisprudence...interspersing short biographical observations of the justices and filling in useful background ... Maybe because it’s hard to write a drama in which the villain hasn’t done anything terrible yet, Greenhouse makes an uncharacteristic misstep in a brief excursus that compares the new justice to the late Phyllis Schlafly. To be sure, Schlafly was an important figure in the early anti-abortion movement. But her anti-feminist crusade against women in the workplace sits oddly with Barrett’s lifelong pursuit of a full-time career as a law professor and judge while raising seven (no, that’s not a typo) children ... If the book had been delayed a year and extended through June of 2022, it could have included what are likely to be profoundly consequential, dramatic moments ... If some or all of this drama occurs in the months and years ahead, one can only be comforted by the knowledge that Linda Greenhouse will be here to write about it.
Though the treatment of Barrett, who’s described as the conservative judicial movement’s 'chosen one,' is somewhat melodramatic, Greenhouse incisively dissects the crucial struggle between doctrinaire conservatives Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, and Chief Justice John Roberts, whose preferred strategy is to gradually change Court jurisprudence through subtle rulings on low-profile cases. Distinguished by Greenhouse’s vivid profiles of the justices and lucid unraveling of their knotty legal theories, this is a revelatory study of the Supreme Court in flux.