U.S. Supreme Court

Toobin Dishes Dirt on Supreme Court

  • Print.

Many reviewers have already commented on one of the big revelations in Jeffrey Toobin’s new book, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court.

The book claims that Justice David H. Souter wept and seriously considered resigning after the U.S. Supreme Court decided the election in favor of George W. Bush in its 5-4 decision, Bush v. Gore.

But reviewer David J. Garrow, a Supreme Court writer and professor at Homerton College, notes that Souter’s friend, former Sen. Warren Rudman, R-N.H., challenges that assertion. “Nobody is closer to David Souter than I am and that story is false,” he has been quoted as saying.

Garrow concludes the book is “purposely provocative,” in his review for the Los Angeles Times. He says Toobin is disdainful of some justices, labeling the views of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy as “intellectually incoherent” and calling Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “an icy character” who is “slightly disengaged from the real world.”

Chicago lawyer Michael O’Donnell gives us the book’s “juiciest tidbits” in his review of the book for the San Francisco Chronicle. Here are some of them, as described by O’Donnell:

“After Rehnquist died, Dick Cheney pressed for hunting buddy Antonin Scalia to be named chief justice. …Clarence Thomas uses a three-tiered screening process in his law clerk hiring to make sure only the most conservative candidates get an interview. … Ruth Bader Ginsburg circulated a particularly nasty dissent in Bush v. Gore, and Scalia sent her a sealed, eyes-only memo accusing her of ‘Al Sharpton tactics.’ … Stephen Breyer is a really loud talker, even when discussing official business in the court’s public cafeteria.”

O’Donnell’s criticism of the book is different. He says he had hoped to learn one thing and came away disappointed: Why did then-Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist start wearing those stripes on his robe? It remains a mystery.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.