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What the Supreme Court’s justices should be reading

Posted Dec 18, 2013 12:35 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Justice Stephen G. Breyer revealed his recent obsession in an interview with a French literary magazine published this fall.

He read a seven-volume novel by Marcel Proust in French, and then read it again, according to an Atlantic article by University of Baltimore law professor Garrett Epps. Breyer said reading can help judges project themselves into the lives of others and help them understand the impact of their decisions.

The revelation spurred Epps to ask some legal scholars and writers what they would recommend for the justices. Their recommendations:

• From legal thriller author Scott Turow and Columbia law professor Robert Ferguson: The Just and the Unjust by James Gould Cozzen. Published in 1942, the book is an account of a murder trial that “presents something of the ideals in the profession with a hard realistic turn,” Ferguson says. Ferguson also recommends something written by prisoners, such as Doing Time: 25 years of Prison Writing, edited by Bell Gale Chevigny.

• From University of Colorado law professor Marianne Wesson: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, about a man who discovers a past love was a Nazi war criminal. Wesson also recommends Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, about "the brilliant and manipulative lawyer Thomas Cromwell, chief adviser to Henry the Eighth” for its look at what it means to be a lawyer and “how to practice honesty alongside diplomacy."

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