By a professor of law at Yale, here is a readable and pertinent layman's history of the Supreme Court from 1790 to the present day- one that explodes the myth of impartity in its analysis of actual and theoretical functions of the Court and its Justices through the years. Beginning with the Court's foundation, Mr. Rodell states that though it is unique in its possession of the final say-so and its freedom from check, it has experienced the unfortunate social and political lags and suffered from human prejudice. Following the chronological accounting of men and cases, we come first to John Marshall who headed the court for 24 years from Jefferson's time on. A Federalist and a conservative, Marshall nevertheless had a contempt for legalism and a concern for the end product. After Marshall, Taney suffered the major disrepute in Court history but except for the Dred Scott case, he did not deserve the sweeping misconceptions of his opinions on states rights. Marked by legal tender cases, the 14th amendment and the unfortunate ""separate but equal"" clause in the post Civil War Negro rights legislation, Court action from 1870 to 1900 saw the men on the bench rise to a comfortable prestige and complacency that was only to be broken by the dissents of Oliver Wendell Holmes. Always an associate Justice, Holmes was still the most outstanding figure of Justice until 1930, with the dissent against invasion of privacy in obtaining evidence as typical of his actions. Closer to the present day are the familiar collisions between the Court and Roosevelt's New Deal. This was followed by a succession of new justices until it seemed to some that a leftward trend was evident. Warren as chief Justice now has Rodell's confidence. With the last decade's prominent cases springing from the cold war, Rodell looks to Warren as a 20th century Marshall whose temperate nature may regain lost values. A lively, marketable timely study.