Reviews

Supreme Court's Drifting Days Are Done

This scrupulously objective book may be considered a gift to conservatives who have long despaired about the possibility of principled legal tenets regularly prevailing in Supreme Court opinions. For decades this long-suffering group has watched Republican Supreme Court appointees concur in various left-wing crackpot decisions that have become the law of the land.

Thankfully, such disappointments should become less likely, according to authors Neal Devins, a College of William & Mary law professor, and Lawrence Baum, professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State University. Nowadays, conservatives have their own elite legal organizations that mold and encourage those with judicial potential and from which the judicial aspirants draw support and esteem. In addition, products of the conservative elite now make up the majority of the Supreme Court.

But uncertainty remains. Will this new conservative court maintain its objectivity and independence in considering complex legal matters, or will it adopt the reasoning of the position-paper-type opinions about legal topics that circulate within respectable, corporate conservatism?

In advancing their social-psychology theory about the current state of the Supreme Court, Devins and Baum first make some unremarkable observations about human nature in general and judicial personalities in particular. They note that the psychology of a Supreme Court justice disproportionately...

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