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American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia [Format Kindle]

Joan Biskupic

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Descriptions du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

The first full-scale biography of the Supreme Court's most provocative--and influential--justice


If the U.S. Supreme Court teaches us anything, it is that almost everything is open to interpretation. Almost. But what's inarguable is that, while the Court has witnessed a succession of larger-than-life jurists in its two-hundred-year-plus history, it has never seen the likes of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.


Combative yet captivating, infuriating yet charming, the outspoken jurist remains a source of curiosity to observers across the political spectrum and on both sides of the ideological divide. And after nearly a quarter century on the bench, Scalia may be at the apex of his power. Agree with him or not, Scalia is "the justice who has had the most important impact over the years on how we think and talk about the law," as the Harvard law dean Elena Kagan, now U.S. Solicitor General, once put it.


Scalia electrifies audiences: to hear him speak is to remember him; to read his writing is to find his phrases permanently affixed in one's mind. But for all his public grandstanding, Scalia has managed to elude biographers--until now. In American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the veteran Washington journalist Joan Biskupic presents for the first time a detailed portrait of this complicated figure and provides a comprehensive narrative that will engage Scalia's adherents and critics alike. Drawing on her long tenure covering the Court, and on unprecedented access to the justice, Biskupic delves into the circumstances of his rise and the formation of his rigorous approach to the bench. Beginning with the influence of Scalia's childhood in a first-generation Italian American home, American Original takes us through his formative years, his role in the Nixon-Ford administrations, and his trajectory through the Reagan revolution. Biskupic's careful reporting culminates with the tumult of the contemporary Supreme Court--where it was and where it's going, with Scalia helping to lead the charge.


Even as Democrats control the current executive and legislative branches, the judicial branch remains rooted in conservatism. President Obama will likely appoint several new justices to the Court--but it could be years before those appointees change the tenor of the law. With his keen mind, authoritarian bent, and contentious rhetorical style, Scalia is a distinct and persuasive presence, and his tenure is far from over. This new book shows us the man in power: his world, his journey, and the far-reaching consequences of the transformed legal landscape.


Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 870 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 448 pages
  • Editeur : Sarah Crichton Books; Édition : First Edition (10 novembre 2009)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B003GWX8M6
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°511.362 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Amazon.com: 3.9 étoiles sur 5  17 commentaires
73 internautes sur 80 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Not Much Life Story 24 décembre 2009
Par Jeff Kelleher - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
If this first-ever biography of the colorful and prickly Associate Justice were a New Yorker profile, it would merit four stars; if an Atlantic Monthly feature, three. It is an accessible and compact survey of Scalia's public writings and pronouncements, and of public commentary on them. But as biography, it is disappointing.

Biskupic devotes only 21 pages to the first 38 years of her subject's life--the very period the reader is most curious about. How can this be called biography? Compare the first volume of Robert Caro's life of Lyndon Johnson-- 800 deeply illuminating pages on Johnson's first 33 years.

The book offers few glimpses of the influences that shaped Scalia's thought and temperament. Who were the teachers, priests, and professors who taught him? What courses did he take, books did he read, bull sessions did he attend, course papers and letters did he write? He did years of ROTC in school but never served in the military; why not? He spent his junior year at Switzerland's University of Fribourg in what Biskupic calls "a yearlong academic and sightseeing feast." That feastful year gets 43 words.

What was his work during his six years at the law firm of Jones, Day? Hardly a word on this. His four years as a professor at the University of Virginia get only glancing coverage.

The book is drawn almost entirely from published sources. The author did interview the Justice himself several times, and a scattering of family and acquaintances, but collectively these interviews add only the faintest coloration to the public record. Most of Scalia's friends, classmates, and colleagues are still alive, and so loquacious a man certainly has left a lot of private writings and utterances scattered about. But Biskupic did not bother to do the hard digging necessary to uncover them. She worked libraries, not the streets.

Biskupic surmises, casually and obviously, that his view of Roe v. Wade might have been shaped by his Catholic faith; and that his view of the District of Columbia's gun ban might have been influenced by his lifelong hunting hobby. Hardly profound.

Two speculations are particularly tantalizing. First, Scalia's literalist "originalism" in constitutional interpretation has a parallel in the literalist catechism of the Catholic Church. Second, as a law student he was taken with Herbert Wechsler's doctrine of "neutral principles" of constitutional law--the notion that judges should decide by applying transcendent principles that are detached from the outcome in a particular case. Both of these beg for elaboration, but Biskupic simply tosses them into a paragraph or two and moves on.

If you want a refresher on recent constitutional struggles, as expressed in Scalia's opinions, speeches, and writings, this is a useful book. If you are looking for illuminating biography, you will find, on finishing it, that you have learned almost nothing that was not already extant.
13 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 rich in fact, weak in ideas 22 août 2010
Par Joseph A. Harder - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Having read this biography several times, I must largely concur with Mr. Kelleher's review. This is a good IDEA for a biography, but the end product is badly flawed. Ms. Biskupic, like many of Scalia's critics, and like many aminstream journalists who cover conservative thought, does not really engage with Scalia's ideas, or with his intellectual development. I was amazed that she does not even discuss Scalia's book A Matter of Interpretation. She talks about the influence of Catholicism on Scalia, yet does not discuss in detail what he studied at Georgetown or who he studied with. One reads constanly that Scalia graduated with honors in History. Which branch of History? Did he focus on American History or on European? Was he influenced by Georgetown's renowned and controversial Professor Carrroll Quigley? Scalia is usually seen as an "intellectual" conservative. What book and writers influenced him. We know that Clarence Thomas read Harry Jaffa and that William Rehnquist was deeply influenced by Hayek and Oakeshott. Who influenced Scalia?
In short, this book leavesa lot of questions unaanswered. It is a brilliant piece of inside reporting on court politics and personalities, but a superficial view of its subject.
28 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Another Blockbuster Biography 14 novembre 2009
Par E. H. Hayes - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
American Original is the latest judicial biography by the insightful and talented Joan Biskupic. Having covered the Supreme Court for many years for The Washington Post and USA Today, Ms. Biskupic has honed her remarkable talent for understanding the people behind the robes. With a fluid and engaging style of writing, the author shows how the justices' personal lives impact their judicial decision making. After successfully publishing a biography of Justice Sandra Day O'Conner several years ago, Ms. Biskupic trains her sights on one of our most intriguing and provocative justices, Antonin Scalia. Reading American Original provides an in depth understanding of the life events that shaped Justice Scalia's vision of what the Constitution means and how it should be applied. Ms Biskupic's research is informed by numerous interviews with not only Justice Scalia and his family but virtually all of the sitting justices, a remarkable feat and a testament to the writer's investigative skills. Lest anyone be concerned that this biography is "soft" on Justice Scalia, Ms Biskupic offers a balanced and often critical analysis of the Justice's decisions. What stands out in American Original is the fullness of Justice Scalia's pesonality. You may not agree with his philosophy but he is a larger than life individual whose intellectual prowess and engaging manner make him a compelling character.
To better understand the long journey towards a more conservative Supreme Court, one must read American Original. While it may be known today as the "Roberts Court", it had its genesis from the commencement of Justice Scalia's tenure. American Original is a book that everyone, not just lawyers, should read to understand the impact of the Supreme Court in our lives.
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 El Niño! 6 février 2010
Par Gerard J. St John - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
The dust jacket says that this is a "full-scale biography" of Justice Antonin ("Nino") Scalia. It is not a biography in the usual sense of the word. It is more like one of the "Highlights" videos that are regularly produced by NFL football teams. To be sure, there are some elements of biography. For example, we learn that Scalia's father was Italian, that he earned a Ph.D. and that he taught English in Brooklyn College. Also, we learn that the Scalias are Catholic, and that Nino was educated at a Jesuit-run high school and college. These biographical aspects of the book are important because the author frequently concludes that Justice Scalia's legal opinions can be traced back to the rigid rules of a father who taught languages, or to the legalistic beliefs held by Catholics - Jesuits in particular.

Like a highlights video, the book is organized around interesting constitutional issues and cases rather than following a traditional chronological timeline. Frequently using excerpts from the written opinions of Justice Scalia, there are short summaries of cases dealing with discrimination and affirmative action, abortion, religion, gay rights, the Bush/Gore presidential election, the Guantanamo detainees, and other important matters that came before the Supreme Court in the last twenty-five years. By and large, the summaries are substantively excellent. They are very well written and highly entertaining. Scalia's feistiness and dominating sense of humor are clearly presented. Opposing views of some of Scalia's colleagues on the bench and law school professors are presented, usually in conclusional form, sometimes through the author's introductory or concluding clauses. It is like reading a series of inter-related short stories. You do not want to put the book down.

The issue-oriented organization of the book does give rise to some difficulties, although those difficulties do not detract from the interesting narrative. For example, the book does not deal with the evolution of the Supreme Court, except insofar as it involves Scalia's contemporaries. The most senior of those contemporaries was Justice William Brennan. The Supreme Court was in existence 166 years before Justice Brennan was appointed, but no mention is made of the pattern of Court decisions during that span of time. Nor is there any mention that Brennan, who was only the second Catholic appointed to the Supreme Court during those 166 years, was exceedingly uncomfortable with the fact that his appointment was largely because he was a Catholic. (President Eisenhower was appealing to Catholic voters.) On the other hand, the book does mention the comment of Professor Stone, a former Brennan law clerk, that "All five justices in the majority [banning partial birth abortion] are Catholic." The implication is that the ruling was made on religious grounds. Finally, the reader gets no sense of the difficulty that must have been encountered by a person of average means who competes with the brightest lawyers in the country and succeeds as a Justice of the Supreme Court. That element is missing from this account.
11 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Even-Handed & Illuminating 20 décembre 2009
Par K. N. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Supreme Court reporter Joan Biskupic has accomplished a commendable feat of narrative art: to present in an engaging yet even-handed tone the legal, political, and spiritual perspectives that inform the jurisprudence of the Court's most controversial member. Scalia has been the subject of numerous books and articles which alternately laud or condemn his influence on the Court. Biskupic eschews "taking sides" in any partisan way and offers up the closest thing we have to a measured account of Scalia's life and his approach to the law.

Particularly commendable about the book is the fact that Scalia is a sitting Justice. It's usually very difficult for an author to remain tonally impartial when she is writing a "history of the present." Yet Biskupic manages to do just that, even when considering such recent events as Scalia's duck-hunting trip with then-Vice President Dick Cheney and the 2009 New Haven firefighters case.

One way Biskupic manages this task is to cite responses to Scalia's public statements and/or opinions from a range of perspectives, "liberal" to "conservative." Another way is to highlight both the consistencies and inconsistencies with Scalia's professed "originalism." But much of the credit should go to Biskupic's own narrative style, which is the hallmark not of "objective" journalistic reporting but of measured historical analysis. Reading her book almost feels like assessing the career of a highly influential jurist from the past. That Scalia is a sitting Justice seems incidental to Biskupic's larger project of understanding his life and perspectives in rigorous historical context.

I highly recommend this book not only to students of law and the U.S. Supreme Court but also to anyone interested in civics, legal reasoning, and the art of biographical writing.
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