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Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion [Format Kindle]

Stephen Wermiel , Stern Seth Wermiel

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

"The authors balance differing accounts of Brennan the jurist and the man, presenting an evenhanded portrait of the affable but stubborn Justice."
--Kirkus Reviews

"'Justice Brennan' provides the most comprehensive and well-organized look at the legendary liberal jurist to date. Stern and Wermiel dig below the popular cliche of Bill Brennan as the Constitution's Gene Kelly, all twinkling eyes and glad-to-see-ya Irish charm,” to reveal the complicated (and quite conservative) man beneath."
--The New York Times

"Those who want to understand the glory and the contradictions of a true progressive jurist should buy the first full-length biography, Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion, by Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel."
--The Atlantic Online

"Brennan made a huge mark on our Constitution, and Stern and Wermiel illuminate his legacy remarkably well."
--Christian Science Monitor

"The definitive [Brennan] biography...a detailed and fascinating account... Both legal scholars and general readers will be delighted with this well-written, superbly documented biography."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"This sweeping biography of one of the most influential justices ever to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States invites the reader to witness the details of William J. Brennan Jr.'s personal life, the darker moments, as well as those that shine. It seats the reader in Brennan's chambers to listen to his conversations and see the memoranda exchanged with other justices and his law clerks ... In sum, the biography is an intimate account of Brennan's life, especially his 34 years on the Court."
--Newark Star Ledger

"The book offers an intelligent and interesting account both of Brennan's decades on the Court and of the broader developments in American life that intertwined with the Court's work."
--Ed Whelan, National Review Online

"The book takes care to place decisions and opinions in the context of Brennan's personal history, judicial philosophy and larger societal factors. It's deliciously gossipy when discussing how certain justices voted and what their opinions were of each other, but that information's also vital when understanding how the court operated."
--Dan Herman, Pacific Northwest Inlander

Présentation de l'éditeur

A sweeping insider look at the life of William Brennan, champion of free speech and widely considered the most influential Supreme Court justice of the twentieth century


Before his death, William Brennan granted Stephen Wermiel access to volumes of personal and court materials that are sealed to the public until 2017. These are what Jeffrey Toobin has called “a coveted set of documents” that includes Brennan’s case histories—in which he recorded strategies behind all the major battles of the past half century, including Roe v. Wade, affirmative action, the death penalty, obscenity law, and the constitutional right to privacy—as well as more personal documents that reveal some of Brennan's curious contradictions, like his refusal to hire female clerks even as he wrote groundbreaking women’s rights decisions; his complex stance as a justice and a Catholic; and details on Brennan’s unprecedented working relationship with Chief Justice Earl Warren. Wermiel distills decades of valuable information into a seamless, riveting portrait of the man behind the Court's most liberal era.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 9142 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 709 pages
  • Editeur : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Édition : 1 (4 octobre 2010)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B0042JSMP0
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  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°592.512 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  43 commentaires
42 internautes sur 43 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A well-written and insighful account of Brenann's life and career 6 septembre 2010
Par MarkK - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Few Supreme Court justices have had a greater -- and more controversial impact -- on American history than William J. Brennan. Attacked by his opponents as a judicial activist, the decisions he authored over a thirty-four-year career on the Court expanded the rights of Americans, including those of such disadvantaged groups as minorities, criminal defendants, and the poor. Two decades after his retirement, his jurisprudence endures in helping to define our understanding of American law in many areas. Yet until now, Brennan's life and career has never received the degree of biographical attention such contemporaries as Earl Warren, Thurgood Marshall, and John Marshall Harlan have enjoyed. Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel go far towards rectifying this deficiency with this book, which offers a searching examination of Brennan's life and career.

There was little in Brennan's early years to suggest the impact his career would have on the country. The son of an Irish immigrant who had made a career in New Jersey politics, Brennan worked hard to obtain an education. Graduation from Harvard Law School led to a job with Newark's preeminent legal firm, followed by wartime service and appointment to the New Jersey state bench. Brennan's background (particularly his Roman Catholicism) and his work in court reform led to his nomination to the Supreme Court by President Eisenhower, where he soon emerged as one of the Court's most prominent liberals in an era characterized by landmark decisions that helped to transform the nation. Though many of these decisions generated a political backlash that shifted the Court to the right and halted further progress, Brennan succeeded in entrenching many of his earlier gains with later decisions that preserved his legacy as a justice.

Well written and based on considerable research, Stern and Wermiel's book fills the longstanding need for a good biography of the justice. Their focus is on his tenure on the Court, as they cover the first fifty years of Brennan's life in a mere seventy pages while devoting the next 450 to his time on the Court and his role in the many decisions in which he participated. The authors' explanation of how these developed is one of the great strengths of the book, as they draw upon numerous interviews and Brennan's extensive collection of personal papers to give an insightful account of how these decisions evolved, an account that emphasizes the role of Brennan's political skills in contributing to his success on the Court. The result is a book that will stand for some time as the standard biography of the great liberal justice and the yardstick by which future studies of Brennan will be measured.
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Our Most Complete Study of Justice Brennan 2 novembre 2010
Par Ronald H. Clark - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
A superior Supreme Court biography manifests a number of key features: discussion of family and educational background; analysis of pre-Court positions, especially judgeships; careful attention to how the subject was selected and confirmed for the appointment; some discussion of how the Justice interacted with colleagues, including the dynamics of decision-making; analysis of the subject's judicial philosophy; and reasonably detailed discussion of some of the Justice's key decisions. By these measures, this the most recent of many biographies of Justice Brennan (1906-1997) is an important addition to the Supreme Court literature.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is how it came about. Apparently after the appearance of "The Brethren" (1979). Brennan became concerned about his public image. In 1986, he met with Stephen Wermiel, then covering the Court for the "Wall Street Journal," and agreed to cooperate in developing a biography. On top of 60 recorded interviews, Wermiel was given access to Brennan's papers, including "term histories" compiled by his clerks recounting important cases with which the Justice had been involved. Co-author Seth Stern took over lead writing responsibilities after Wermiel became an American University law professor, and he conducted further interviews and reviewed additional written sources such as conference notes and other material. In my experience, it is very unusual for such cooperation to be forthcoming from a Justice; the downside is that what we get primarily is Brennan's take on things, although the authors are fairly even-handed in their assessments. In any regard, what we are interested in are Brennan's views of the Court during his service, and they certainly come through loud and clear here.

The book is divided into Parts I-V, which are presented in chronological order. So, in Part I (1906-1956), are chapters on family background, legal education, initial lawyer experience, military service, ascending the New Jersey state court bench, and Brennan's involvement in state court reform activities. Part II (1956-62) contains some of the most important chapters in the book. An excellent chapter recounts how Brennan, a Democrat, was selected by Ike for the Court appointment. A succeeding chapter focuses on how Brennan adjusted to joining the Court, especially his relationship with Chief Justice Warren, Justice Frankfurter's courtship and eventual disappointment in Brennan, how Brennan used his clerks and developed his famous persuasive techniques, and some of the difficult areas he encountered early during his tenure, including obscenity, church-state separation, and national security issues.

Part III (1962-1969) shows Brennan at the pinnacle of his influence during the most critical (and controversial) period of the Warren Court. While important decisions in areas like obscenity, criminal justice, and civil rights are discussed, the book scores high points for not becoming too technical or detailed, and always keeping the focus on larger Court developments, such as how the loss of Justice Black, the resignation of Justice Fortas, and the death of Warren impacted on Brennan's ability to build coalitions. Another bonus is the authors focus on Brennan the person, for example in his decision to withdraw the offer of a clerkship to Michael Tigar. So the reader benefits from a triple focus: key Court decisions; how Brennan interacts with his colleagues; and Brennan the person.

Part IV (1969-82) shows Brennan in retreat, as Burger becomes Chief and Rehnquist joins the Court. Brennan turns Blackmun into an ally and plays a major, but behind-the-scenes, role in drafting the abortion decision. Marshall joins the Court as well, and Brennan is able to exert persuasive influence over Blackmun and Powell. But he fails to charm O'Connor, and as more conservative Justices join the Court, his influence falls to a low level. This trend continues in Part V (1983-1997), although Brennan can still work his persusaive magic on occasion. However, Justices Scalia and Kennedy exert more dynamic influence than Brennan. Brennan urges state supreme courts to take up the slack in protecting civil rights and liberties. On a personal basis, Brennan is reluctant about hiring his few women clerks. Bad health leads to his retirement in 1990.

This hefty volume runs some 650 pages, including notes. The 90 pages of endnotes and the discussion of "Sources" attest to the extensive research conducted by the authors. A number of helpful photographs are included. The authors are careful and thoughtful in rendering judgments; sensitive to views opposing those of Brennan; and critical of their subject at points. All and all, this is a very fine effort and well worth the attention of anyone interested in the Court and its dynamics.
15 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Fascinating "Inside" Look at Warren/Burger Courts 4 octobre 2010
Par Noel C Paul - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
This excellent biography provides fascinating detail of the formulation of some of the most significant cases of the 20th century. I've never read a judicial biography that has so much "inside baseball" - and it will be loved by Court junkies. But it's also a crisply written and compelling story of 20th century US politics, intellectual history, religion, and gender relations -- told through the life of a towering figure of American history. Anyone interested in 20th century US history will really enjoy this fine book.
10 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Par David Keymer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel. Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Oct. 4, 2010. 653 + xiv p, 16 p bxw photos, notes, index.

Even conservatives who hated him admit that Justice William J. Brennan Jr. was an exceptionally effective Supreme Court Justice and that the decisions which he shepherded through to a majority vote on the Court still affect how justice is administered in the United States and the protections afforded to us under the civil liberties clauses in the Bill of Rights. In a thirty-four-year tenure on the Court (1956-90), he succeeded in broadening existing rights and creating new ones (especially under the "right to privacy", which he helped craft behind the scenes) for women, including access to abortion, minorities, homosexuals, the poor and the press. In the process, he became not only the most effective liberal justice to serve on the Supreme Court but also the most hated by his opponents. Indeed, the backlash we see now with the Court's "strict constructionists" can be seen in large part as a reaction to the image of an activist court championed by Brennan and his beloved Chief, Chief Justice Earl Warren.

This book was delayed so long in appearing -Brennan had granted Wermiel access to his papers but Wermeil put the unfinished notes aside in the late nineties--that other revelations -by Harry Blackmun, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, etc.--have partly superceded it. Nonetheless, this is the most deliberative and the fairest book yet to appear on Brennan and his achievement as a justice. It is especially valuable for the way it shows how Brennan built coalitions on the Court. It was seldom easy to gain the necessary five votes for the same ruling: justices had their own axes to grind and their own perspectives to put forth in concurring or dissenting opinions.

The picture Stern and Wermiel paint of Brennan's private behavior and views is intriguing. Brennan, the Court's champion of press rights, loathed reporters and fled from the press. Brennan was deeply uneasy even thinking about pornographic literature but he led the campaign to liberalize laws concerning pornography. Although off and on again in his devotion to the Catholic Church and personally opposed to the very idea of abortion, he defended women's rights to make their own determinations about their bodies. Though a champion of women's rights on the Court, he once announced he would probably retire if a woman justice were appointed to the Court (he changed his mind late in his tenure on the Court, by which time two women justices -Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg- had been appointed to the bench to sit beside him. And he was late and dilatory in appointing women clerks in his own office, in part, it seems, because he didn't know how he could talk to them. Still, Brennan comes across as a decent man who possessed the uncommon grace to admit his own mistakes and prejudices and even apologize for them. His genuine charm and niceness won over even most of his adversaries on the Court. The one exception was O'Connor, whom he bruised verbally (and unnecessarily) when she was a first-term Justice. She never forgave him this slight and always suspected his motives.

It is impossible to say just why the personally conservative New Jersey justice became the admittedly liberal Justice on the Supreme Court: was it his admiration for Earl Warren that led him along, his own self interest (that seems dubious) or a genuine passion for social change and justice for all? We'll probably never know. We certainly won't learn it from the writings and statements Brennan left behind him -he was too private for that and too much of a legal pragmatist to pin his own beliefs down on paper. In at least one area, though, we do know. Late in life, Brennan became absolutely opposed to the death penalty and he restated his objection in every appeal that came before the Court subsequently.

The book plods at time, and there are a few passages that clang, but all in all, this is not only a well researched, but a well presented, study of an important American figure. He is, in my mind, one of our heroes.
15 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great book about the Supreme Court 23 septembre 2010
Par Lehigh History Student - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel provide an excellent (although very pro) biography of Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. Brennan was one of the longest serving justices in modern history celebrating around forty years on the court. He was in the majority opinions more often than most and was a crucial swing player in Supreme Court politics. If you want a real nitty gritty look at the major cases of the modern era from Baker v. Carr to Roe v. Wade you can see Brennan's influence running throughout. He was the whip of Earl Warren within the Supreme Court authoring many opinions that helped to hold together fragile majorities on a variety of issue. You also get a great look at Brennan's personal life from his time at UPenn and Harvard to his brief tenure as a justice for the Supreme Court of New Jersey. His elevation was largely based upon his youth and his religion which satisfied the political needs of Eisenhower. Overall a very interesting book and well worth the read for those interested in Supreme Court history
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