An incisive consideration of the Supremes, offering erudite yet accessible clues to legal thinking on the most important...

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A COURT DIVIDED

THE REHNQUIST COURT AND THE FUTURE OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

Considering past as prologue, Tushnet (Constitutional Law/Georgetown) pursues individual Supreme Court members to analyze their thinking in some significant cases.

The Court’s announced positions do not represent neat divisions between such comparative liberals as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and archconservatives like Antonin Scalia, the author finds. Rather, the most important split is between hard-line conservative Republicans—Scalia and Clarence Thomas, for example—and the more traditional Republicans, including Sandra Day O’Connor and David Souter. No wonder the judicial branch has nudged the nation to the right, though perhaps not as far as the Chief Justice might have wished. Tushnet (Making Civil Rights Law, 1994) provides astute reviews of landmark cases dealing with such public concerns as the religious right, gay rights, abortion, affirmative action, free speech, and crime. Judging many of the justices in light of the cases upon which they opined, the author sees Clarence Thomas as unwilling to countenance any change in the 1789 Constitution, Kennedy as pompous, Breyer as a bit weird, Ginsburg as family-minded, and Souter as a modern man of the 19th century. Tushnet reserves most of the dissing for Scalia, described as “splenetic” and not “as smart as he thinks he is.” Legal stratagems are explained, the arcana of the law are rendered lucid throughout, and the author’s fly-on-the-wall coverage of the courthouse is quite credible. For the future, Tushnet concludes, we can look forward to more “borking”: that is, to the Senate vetting and ultimately rejecting candidates for places on the bench because of their on-record political convictions. We can also look forward to more politics: decisions based less on settled law, more on the political agenda of the executive branch, as well as on the agenda of the justices themselves. About the only thing left unexplained: those strange gold stripes on the sleeves of the Chief’s robes.

An incisive consideration of the Supremes, offering erudite yet accessible clues to legal thinking on the most important level.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-393-05868-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2004

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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