A well-documented exposé of a broken system for policing errant federal judges.



An investigative reporter reveals flaws in how Americans hold federal judges accountable for sexual misconduct and shows how whistleblowers have brought some to justice.

Rogue federal judges have caused scandals at least since George Washington appointee John Pickering became the first to be removed from office by the Senate, which acted after he’d repeatedly taken to the bench “in a state of total intoxication” or mental “derangement.” Since then, secretive disciplinary procedures and toothless remedies (allowing quiet resignations with full pensions) have enabled further sins documented in alarming detail in this exposé. Olsen focuses on hair-raising abuses by Samuel Bristow Kent of the Southern District of Texas, the first judge impeached by the House of Representatives for sexual misconduct he lied about. He resigned rather than stand trial in the Senate. Two female court employees had alleged that, among other types of sexual assault or harassment, Kent tried to force them to perform oral sex on him in a federal courthouse—a charge his lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, attempted to refute by claiming his client suffered from erectile dysfunction. Olsen shows how—with Kent’s accusers understandably reluctant to go public with intimate experiences—she helped to break the story open in the Houston Chronicle, leading to a public outcry that contributed to his downfall. She also offers abundant evidence of egregious missteps by other federal judges, including Alex Kozinski, a mentor to Brett Kavanaugh. The writing here tends toward journalese (a whistleblower is “a sharply dressed soccer mom” and William Rehnquist, “the balding Wisconsin native”), but Olsen describes a serious oversight problem with vigor and credibility. She also gives deserved credit to courageous whistleblowers who were doubly victimized—first by their abusers and then by a legal system that required them to endure the pain of public exposure to obtain justice.

A well-documented exposé of a broken system for policing errant federal judges.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0867-6

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.


A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.


The renowned political scientist and philosopher considers classical liberalism and the broad range of enemies arrayed against it.

“By ‘liberalism,’ ” writes Fukuyama, “I refer to the doctrine…that argued for the limitation of the powers of governments through law and ultimately constitutions, creating institutions protecting the rights of individuals living under their jurisdiction.” Born of events such as the English civil war and the Enlightenment, this liberalism also encouraged diversity of thought, religion, and ethnicity, placing it squarely in the crosshairs of today’s authoritarian nationalists, not least Donald Trump. Fukuyama has often been identified with conservative causes, but his thinking here is democratic to the core, and he has no use for such pathetic lies as Trump’s insistence that the 2020 election was stolen. That said, the author notes that liberalism has many enemies on both the left and the right for numerous real yet correctable failings. The neoliberalism that has emerged over the past couple of generations has accelerated inequality, and numerous institutions have been eroded while others, such as the Electoral College, have been revealed to be anti-democratic. Both left and right, the author argues, have trouble accepting that governing over diversity, the hallmark of liberalism, means governing over many ethnic and national groups, strata of income, and competing interests. He adds, however, “Left-of-center voters…remain much more diverse” in political outlook. Essential to a liberal society, Fukuyama insists, is the right to vote: “Voting rights are fundamental rights that need to be defended by the power of the national government.” While he insists that individual rights take precedence over group rights, he also observes that the social contract demands citizen participation. To the conservative charge that the social contract is one thing but the “common moral horizon” another, he answers that yes, liberalism does not insist on a single morality—which “is indeed a feature and not a bug.”

A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60671-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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