The Roberts Court

19 Jul


• Author:  Marcia Coyle:  Marcia Coyle is the Chief Washington Correspondent for The National Law Journal. A lawyer and journalist, Coyle has covered the Supreme Court for twenty years. Her work has earned numerous national journalism awards, including the George Polk Award for legal reporting.
• Genre:  Non-fiction (Politics, History)
• Title: The Roberts Court
• Published: 2013
• Table of Contents:  5 parts:  Race, Guns, Money, Health Care and  On with the Culture Wars
• Published:  Simon & Shuster

Trivia (personal): I dedicate  all the effort I have put into learning about the US Supreme Court  by reading this book to my Government and Civics teacher.. I never listened, learned or did my homework in her class.  I bow my head in shame….


  1. I know absoutely nothing  about The US Supreme Court.  I can name all 23 players in the Dutch Soccer team, but know only 1 Supreme Court Justice. It is time I learn something new! I have no idea how to review this book.  I don’t want it to be a summation of facts.  I hope to find a ‘human side’ and  learn more about the  judges, their working relationships  and pressures these statesmen and women must endure.
  2. This is not an easy book to read. I’m fighting to stay awake and attentive. With all due respect I cannot imagine how  I could absorb this as an audio book.  I must  ‘highlight’ names in the book to give myself a visual.  When references to amendments of the Constitution are made I must check Wikipedia for more information.
  3. I experienced in Part 1 ch 3 my first thoughts of  throwing the book on the abandon pile. Promised myself to read part 1 ( Race) and the decide what to do.
  4. I cannot read this book and hope to absorb the minutia about cases that are discussed. If I want to finish this book I’ll have to change  my reading tactic: I’m looking up names of people, learning about the United States Appeals court and of course focusing most of my attention on the Supreme Court and its  work and judges.  By using Wikipedia I’m making the book  interactive. This will help me get some of the ‘ rough spots’  in the book.  
  5. Marcia Coyle takes the reader  through many cases in which the Roberts court made a decision. I found it absolutely essential  to read the  ‘holding’   (summation)  in Wikipedia. I learned the core issue and decision in a glance. I don’t think I could have followed the narrartive as an audio book. It is just too complicated.
  6. Part 2 has given me hope that I wlll finish the book! . This was a fast narrative about a high stakes  gun case brought before the Supreme Court. The case need 5 years of preparation and was decided in June 2008.

US Supreme Justices  (The Roberts Court)



  • US Supreme Court chooses to hear fewer than 100 of the more than 10,000 cases filed with it annually. These are usually cases of ‘conflict’ in the lower courts.
  • Harriet Miers: was G. W. Bush’s personal lawyer. She had NO experience in constitutional law and her failed nomination looks like pure “favoritism’! I was surprised this could happen when it deals with one of the most important jobs in the judiciary system.
  • Sandra Day-O’Connerfirst woman to be a Supreme Court Justice. Afer her graduation 1952 Stanford Law School she failed to get a job after 40 interviews because she was a woman. She finally accepted a  county attorney in San Mateo California, after she offered to work for no salary and without an office, sharing space with a secretary. Amazing that is could happen ….
  • Miranda warning is a warning given by police in the United States to criminal suspects in police custody
  • Originalism:  (justices Scalia and Thomas,)
  • Names to watch!
  • Alan Gura: One of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” ( specialty: gun litigation)
  • Paul Drew Clement:  potenial young lawyer for  nomination to Supreme Court in the future…?
  • Office of United States Solicitor General:  this is often a ‘stepping stone’ to a potential place on the Surpeme Court
  • For history  enthusiasts  there is the George Washington Book Prize. Three historians are nominated on George Washington’s birthday in February. The prize is annonced in May at Washington’s plantation home, Mount Vernon Virgina.
  • Robert MacLean vs. Dept. of Homeland Security:  This is the next case to watch when the Supreme Court opens October 2014! 
  • In summer 2003, MacLean tried to blow the whistle within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on an attempt to remove air marshal coverage of “high-risk” flights amidst heightened warnings based on intelligence that terrorists were planning on hijacking planes and flying them into U.S. East Coast targets —  a violation of the Aviation & Transportation Security Act 2001. MacLean was fired.


Strong point:  this book made me aware of the importance of the US Supreme Court. In the course of my reading I learned about the individuals themselves which will make any news about the Supreme Court  more interesting to me. It is a book you would attempt if you just want to ‘know more’ about the law system in the USA. Reading this book is hard work and requires a small dosis of  ‘perserverence’.

Strong point: this book made me aware of the women who have earned a place in the Supreme Court. All are  great role models for young girls and women. Anything is possible even the Supreme Court.

Weak point: this book is filled with endless details of specific court cases: It is part of the structure of the book but takes time to read and digest. Coyle should have started the book with  the subjet in chapter 2  “GUNS” . It captures  your attention and was a fascinating read.

The Roberts Court was a challenge and I found it as appetizing as eating lima beans.  A fellow reader at Goodreads, Jean, has taken upon herself to read a series of books about the Supreme Court and the individual judges,  I promised her I would do my best and read one book.  I have kept my promise!

I have given  The Roberts Court  3  score because  of this strong point:  this book has  spurred me on to discover subjects I would normally avoid!  My next ‘unknown’ area I wll read about is the Koch Brothers…..who pull many strings  in US politics!

Score: 3



1 Comment

Posted by on July 19, 2014 in Uncategorized


One response to “The Roberts Court

  1. N@ncy

    July 19, 2014 at 21:08

    Comment from Jean via ” Nancy: Congratulation on finishing the book. I guess I am use to reading textbooks that I did not find in dry and boring. The first few books I read I was having to look up the court cases but now I know most of them. I find the biographies of the Judges most interesting.”


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