Decision: How the Supreme Court Decides Cases

Bernard Schwartz, Author
Bernard Schwartz, Author Oxford University Press, USA $27.5 (288p) ISBN 978-0-19-509859-4
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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In a book aimed at specialists, veteran court-watcher Schwartz (A History of the Supreme Court) draws on archives, including the files of recently retired Justices William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall, and confidential interviews to describe internal court arguments on cases recent and long past. He begins with a close analysis of the arguments-especially what he terms the manipulations of Chief Justice William Rehnquist-in the Webster abortion case, then admiringly describes the leadership of ""Super Chief"" Earl Warren, who gained all-important unanimity in the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case (1954). Chief Justice Warren Burger, on the other hand, found his work regularly modified by pressure from his colleagues that led to an ""opinion by committee"" in cases such as the Nixon Watergate appeal. Schwartz also analyzes cases in which associate justices (Brennan, for example) took temporary leadership of the court, and how justices switched votes in crucial cases. He concludes by worrying that judges' young law clerks retain too much power as gatekeepers to the court, and endorses a 1972 proposal by a court-appointed committee to create a new court of appeals to screen all petitions for appeal. (Mar.)
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