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Scalia: A Court of One
     

Scalia: A Court of One

3.0 2
by Bruce Allen Murphy
 

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“[Murphy’s] biography of Justice Scalia is patient and thorough, alive both intellectually and morally….Functions as an MRI scan of one of the most influential conservative thinkers of the twentieth century.” (The New York Times): An authoritative, incisive and deeply researched book about of the most controversial Supreme Court justice

Overview

“[Murphy’s] biography of Justice Scalia is patient and thorough, alive both intellectually and morally….Functions as an MRI scan of one of the most influential conservative thinkers of the twentieth century.” (The New York Times): An authoritative, incisive and deeply researched book about of the most controversial Supreme Court justice of our time.

Scalia: A Court of One is the compelling story of one of the most polarizing figures to serve on the nation’s highest court. Bruce Allen Murphy shows how Scalia changed the legal landscape through his controversial theories of textualism and originalism, interpreting the meaning of the Constitution’s words as he claimed they were understood during the nation’s Founding period. But Scalia’s judicial conservatism is informed as much by his highly traditional Catholicism and political partisanship as by his reading of the Constitution; his opinionated speeches, contentious public appearances, and newsworthy interviews have made him a lightning rod for controversy. Scalia is “an intellectual biography of one of [the Supreme Court’s] most colorful members” (Chicago Tribune), combined with an insightful analysis of the Supreme Court and its influence on American life over the past quarter century.

Scalia began his career practicing law in Cleveland, Ohio, and rose to become the president’s lawyer as the head of the Office of Legal Counsel for President Gerald R. Ford. His sterling academic and legal credentials led to his nomination by President Ronald Reagan to the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit in 1982. In 1986, he successfully outmaneuvered the more senior Robert Bork to be appointed to the Supreme Court.

Scalia’s evident legal brilliance, ambition and personal magnetism led everyone to predict he would unite a new conservative majority under Chief Justice William Rehnquist and change American law in the process. Instead he became a Court of One. Rather than bringing the conservatives together, Scalia drove them apart. He attacked and alienated his more moderate colleagues Sandra Day O’Connor, David Souter, and Anthony Kennedy. Scalia prevented the conservative majority from coalescing for nearly two decades.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
★ 07/01/2014
Murphy's (Fred Morgan Kirby Professor of Civil Rights, Lafayette Coll.) previous book, Wild Bill, was a superb look at the life of William O. Douglas, a brash, provocative, conspicuous, and controversial Supreme Court justice. Antonin Scalia is all these things, too. Scalia, now 78, pursued success relentlessly, moving from Jesuit high school to Georgetown University, Harvard University Law, a large Cleveland law firm, professorships at Chicago and Virginia, the Nixon and Ford White Houses, all leading to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, and, in 1986, the Supreme Court. Murphy's chapter titles include "Evil Nino" (Nino being Scalia's nickname), "Scalia v. the Pope," and "Grumpy Old Justice," which capture the subject's prickly personality. The author makes a strong case—as he did in his book on Douglas—that Scalia also doesn't follow certain ethical rules, e.g., his association with Dick Cheney while he had a case pending before the court. Murphy's biography is fair and scholarly—which makes it all the more damning. VERDICT Comprehensively researched, accessible, and fascinating, this title is recommended for friend and foe alike of Nino to understand just what the Supreme Court is up to.—Michael O. Eshleman, Kings Mills, OH
The New York Times - Dwight Garner
[Murphy's] biography of Justice Scalia is patient and thorough, alive both intellectually and morally, and written in fluid, unshowy prose…It's a sensitive and scholarly reading of Justice Scalia's intellectual life…This book is more about the mind than about the man. It's most impressive for the manner in which the author takes us slowly through case after case and ruling after ruling, sometimes stretching our patience but illuminating every twitch of Justice Scalia's synapses along the way. This volume, which quotes the justice at length, functions as an M.R.I. scan of one of the most influential conservative thinkers of the 20th century.
The Boston Globe - Glenn C. Altschuler
“Thoroughly researched and accessible . . . a lively and informative account of Scalia’s upbringing; his education at Georgetown University, where he excelled in debate; his academic career at the University of Virginia and the University of Chicago; his work in the Nixon administration in the offices of telecommunication policy and legal counsel (in the Department of Justice); and his years on the bench.”
The San Francisco Chronicle - Paul M. Barrett
“[A] fair-minded biography. . . . Murphy's deeper and more scholarly focus on Scalia offers . . . an opportunity to study one justice's progress from the Reagan administration's great right hope to the more problematic character he's become.”
The Los Angeles Times - Jim Newton
“Murphy does Scalia the unwarranted honor of treating originalism seriously but does not flinch when he gets to the bottom line: At least in Scalia's hands, originalism is not a method of judicial interpretation, it is a device to import his values into the Constitution.”
Booklist
“A highly engaged, well-researched analysis of a brash justice whose single-mindedness may ultimately reduce his legacy.”
The New York Times Book Review - Jeff Shesol
“May be the most exhaustive treatment of a sitting justice ever written. . . . Scalia is a skeptical, often critical look at its subject, but free of snark; it does its readers the service of taking Scalia’s ideas seriously.”
The Chicago Tribune - Alexander Tsesis
“An intellectual biography of one of [the Supreme Court’s] most colorful members. . . . A lucid account of a wide variety of topics through the lens of judicial biography.”
The Washington Independent Review of Books - Ronald K.L. Collins
“In the long run, will Justice Scalia’s legacy be that of a solo pilot as the title of this book suggests? Or will it be that of a jurist who reinvigorated an interpretive idea that launched a thousand jurisprudential ships? Will his unwillingness to build consensus at the expense of his orthodoxy be judged as an egotistical mistake or a principled advantage?. . . . Scalia provides a rich and needed body of information by which to begin to answer such questions.”
Booklist (starred review)
“A highly engaged, well-researched analysis of a brash justice whose single-mindedness may ultimately reduce his legacy.”
Washington Monthly - Michael O'Donnell
“A significant achievement.”
Newark Star-Ledger - Tom Deignan
“Murphy gives Scalia’s intellect and influence its due. . . . What is strong in Scalia — and what probably irks so many fans of Scalia — is that Murphy does a good job poking holes in Scalia’s strict textual interpretation of the Constitution.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch - Jay Strafford
"Endlessly fascinating . . . Scalia offers a deep examination of the man and his work, one certain to ignite the passions of partisans in our increasingly polarized nation."
The Seattle Times - Kevin J. Hamilton
“A compelling biography of one of the most conservative, combative, and bombastic Supreme Court Justices in our nation’s history. . . . A terrific start to understanding Justice Scalia and his impact on American constitutional law.”
The Atlantic - Dahlia Lithwick
"In Bruce Allen Murphy, Scalia has met a timely and unintimidated biographer ready to probe. . . . In his view, understanding one of the most dazzling and polarizing jurists on the Supreme Court entails, above all, examining the inevitably murky relationship between judicial decision making and religious devotion. . . . Murphy does not shrink from adjudicating Scalia’s dueling public claims: that separating faith from public life is impossible and, at the same time, that he himself has done just that on the Court."
Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-10
A deeply probing biography of the controversial Supreme Court justice.Civil rights historian Murphy (Civil Rights/Lafayette Coll.; Wild Bill: The Legend and Life of William O. Douglas, 2003, etc.) begins by giving the long-serving justice Scalia the benefit of the doubt as a brilliant legal scholar and vigorous textualist. Ultimately, though, he becomes as incredulous and frustrated by the justice's oppositional "originalism" and personal pugnacity as his oft-quoted observers, colleagues and critics. In setting out the life's journey of this extraordinarily driven character, who carefully situated himself as an academic, writer, Republican team player and judge on the District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals from which the pool of Supreme Court justices were frequently plucked, the author notes an entrenched pattern of solipsistic self-righteousness that was engrained early on. Scalia was the only child (b. 1936) of Italian-Americans in Queens; his intellectual father taught romance languages at Brooklyn College and was himself a "literalist" in textual interpretation. A brilliant student, Scalia absorbed the rigor and competitiveness of his Jesuit education, delighting in debate, and was later inculcated by the political conservatism of Harvard Law School in the 1950s. From private practice in Cleveland to teaching to moving into the reaches of power under President Richard Nixon, Scalia proved his conservative bona fides by trying to scuttle the Freedom of Information Act. A founding member of the Federalist Society, Scalia's strict adherence to an originalist (rather than "living") interpretation of the Constitution won him appointment to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. However, Scalia would not become a "consensus builder." Rather, his confrontational style, especially in attacking the very conservative justices, like Sandra O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy, he hoped to sway, only alienated the middle, especially regarding such issues as freedom of speech, reproductive rights, and the separation of church and state.Murphy moves case by case in an evenhanded, thoroughgoing study.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781451611465
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
06/10/2014
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
656
Sales rank:
1,224,568
File size:
18 MB
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Meet the Author

Bruce Allen Murphy is the Fred Morgan Kirby Professor of Civil Rights at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he teaches American constitutional law and civil rights and liberties, American politics, and biographical writing. He is the author of Scalia; The Brandeis-Frankfurter Connection: The Secret Political Activities of Two Supreme Court Justices; Fortas: The Rise and Ruin of a Supreme Court Justice; and Wild Bill: The Legend and Life of William O. Douglas. Murphy lives with his wife in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.

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Scalia: A Court of One 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes, death is always tragic. No one but the right and his family miss him. Oh, and the corporations that paid him off.