With Chief Justice John Roberts' leadership of the Supreme Court approaching its 10th anniversary, Tribe (Constitutional Law/Harvard Univ.; The Invisible Constitution, 2008, etc.) and Matz, who clerks for a federal judge, provide a perspective on the changes reflected in the court's decision-making patterns.
The co-authors cooperate in a near-forensic dissection of the court's work under Roberts, comparing the arguments of each justice on a case-by-case basis. Many of their conclusions will be eye-openers for general readers. Contrary perhaps to expectation, this is not merely an account of a consistent five-member conservative majority against a liberal minority. Conservatives—e.g., Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito—can differ from each other as much as they do from liberals like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. Tribe and Matz fully address legal, philosophical and political motivations, and they document the general direction taking shape as one that tends to reverse law in many areas established since the New Deal. The authors systematically examine how the conflicting opinions on the court are coming together to reformulate the law's understanding of the Constitution in practice. The justices have focused much attention on cases that involve technical rules of procedure. In these cases, the court has favored big business and limited the rights of individuals to seek remedies through the courts for perceived wrongs. They have also used procedural cases to confer “near-total immunity on prosecutors and police,” even undercutting aspects of Miranda rights. Certain decisions on integration, voter rights and affirmative action have raised questions about plaintiffs' future abilities to pursue any rights case in the courts. The court’s decisions have also been geared toward establishing a new balance between federal and state governments and redefining congressional responsibility regarding the economy.
A well-researched, unsettling investigation of recent trends in the nation’s highest court.