Becoming Justice Blackmun (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
The workings of the United States Supreme Court are as mysterious as they are fascinating and important. Nine justices do their work largely in secret, deciding without public explanation which cases they will hear, discussing and voting on each accepted case in closed-door conference without even clerks in attendance. The Court has resisted all pressure to allow cameraseven still photographersinto its chambers. For this reason, books that offer more than speculation about the workings of the Court, including The Brethren: Inside the Supreme Court (1979) by Scott Armstrong and Bob Woodward and Linda Greenhouse’s Becoming Justice Blackmun: Harry Blackmun’s Supreme Court Journey, are eagerly read. While the selection of justices has become increasingly politicized, the information obtained about a prospective justice’s opinions before joining the Court is rarely matched by an understanding of what he or she thinks and does once confirmed.
Becoming Justice Blackmun grew out of an extraordinary opportunity: Blackmun stipulated in his will that his personal and official papers be given to the Library of Congress and made public five years after his death. Public access became available in March, 2004. Greenhouse, presumably on the strength of her two decades of reporting on the Supreme Court for The New York Times, was allowed by the Blackmun family to have access to the papers two months before anyone else. The...
(The entire section is 1600 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
The American Prospect 16 (September, 2005): 38-39.
Booklist 101, no. 18 (May 15, 2005): 1619.
The Christian Science Monitor, May 3, 2005: 15.
Commentary 120, no. 1 (July/August, 2005): 69-72.
Kirkus Reviews 73, no. 6 (March 15, 2005): 333.
Library Journal 130, no. 7 (April 15, 2005): 104-105.
Ms. 15, no. 2 (Summer, 2005): 35.
National Review 57, no. 14 (August 8, 2005): 47-48.
The New Republic 232, no. 24 (June 27, 2005): 36-41.
The New York Times Book Review 154 (May 8, 2005): 9.
Publishers Weekly 252, no. 15 (April 11, 2005): 45-46.
The Times Literary Supplement, September 23, 2005, p. 11.
Washington Monthly 37, nos. 7/8 (July/August, 2005): 58-60.
The Washington Post Book World 35 (May 8, 2005): 3.
The Wilson Quarterly 29, no. 3 (Summer 2005): 125-127.
(The entire section is 77 words.)