cover image COURTING DISASTER: The Supreme Court and the Unmaking of American Law

COURTING DISASTER: The Supreme Court and the Unmaking of American Law

Martin Garbus, . . Holt/Times, $25 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-6918-1

Garbus, a leading First Amendment lawyer and TV commentator, believes the U.S. Supreme Court, rather than protecting American democracy, poses a grave threat to it. He argues that the conservative bloc of the Court, driven by the ideological vision of William Rehnquist and intellectual vigor of Antonin Scalia, is "seizing power" and seeking to eviscerate individual freedoms most Americans assume to be their birthright. He fears even more that conservative Bush appointees would give the Rehnquist bloc the necessary votes to rewrite the Constitution and severely limit the right to abortion, significant First Amendment rights and protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Garbus doesn't dumb down his subject; he discusses Supreme Court cases and the underlying judicial philosophy on the level of a law school class. The analysis of the Court's decisions on women's rights, race, affirmative action and religion will be familiar to sophisticated readers, but the discussion of the constitutional development of economic regulation will be new to most. Still, despite the density of the material, Garbus's writing is clear and comprehensible. Sympathetic—that is, liberal—readers will find his message chilling and will welcome his call for citizens to use their political influence to convince moderate senators, who will provide the pivotal votes on the next Supreme Court nominees, to insist on the appointment of more moderate justices. (Sept. 17)

Forecast:Garbus's reputation should earn him reviews; his audience will consist primarily of the already converted.