Saturday, March 6, 2010

Book Review

I am trying to expand my understanding of the American system of government and the area that I understand the least is Federal Judiciary; especially the Supreme Court. The beginning of my quest to understand the Court, it's justices, and the Constitution is with Linda Geenhouse's study of Justice Harry Blackmun titled Becoming Justice Blackmun.

Greenhouse did not try to write a comprehensive biography of Blackmun but used the release of his papers to study the man and the Court during his time of service. Blackmun is best known as the author of the opinion in Roe vs Wade. The decision, which came early in Blackmun's term as a justice, is the fulcrum for understanding Blackmun's jurisprudence.

Even though Blackmun initially viewed Roe as a means for preserving doctor's ability to treat women, the case began to expand Blackmun's view of justice. He slowly began to expand his conception of justice to include the poor, victims of sex discrimination, and those who have no voice in our legal system.

Greenhouse won a Pulitzer for her coverage of the Supreme Court and it appears it was well deserved. She explains constitutional issues well and makes the world of the Court very accessible. Greenhouse is helped by having the good fortune to chronicle a jurist whose thinking evolved towards a more inclusive understanding of the law.

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