Book Review: “The Brethren”



Woodward does his usual brilliant reporting. It is fascinating to read the play and interplay regarding huge multi-year cases like Roe v. Wade and busing. But it is almost impossible to conceive of how the Court continued to function with any kind of collegial effect once this tell-all book was released. The disdain Justices felt for one another and especially for their Chief – once out in the open – had to have created an atmosphere even more toxic that during the period being reported. I just wonder if some embargo – until at least some of the main players had moved off the stage – would have been advisable. It’s also disquieting to read anecdotes where a Justice, staying on the bench beyond the point of full capacity, vowed to continue with the voting philosophy of simply marking his ballot in opposition to Burger in all cases. I came away from this book thankful for the time-honored and still somewhat revered principle of stare decisis where legal precedent does at least slow the Court’s motivation to upend settled laws simply because Justices have come and gone via the two-party political process. Overall, this is bravura research, chock full of details, and with a lot of drama and flair.


About David B. Smith

I'm a math professor at San Bernardino Valley College - awesome place! - and author of adult Christian fiction. Lisa and I have two grown daughters and four grandkids.
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