Saturday, September 29, 2007

Slayton on Toobin

Philip Slayton (of Lawyers Gone Bad fame) reviews Jeffrey Toobin's The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court in today's Globe and Mail:

It's the men and women of the Supreme Court who count, but can we count on them? Much of The Nine is given over to the despicable way the Court resolved the 2000 presidential election: "The character of the justices themselves turned that opportunity into one of the lowest moments in the Court's history. ... the justices displayed all of their worst traits - among them, vanity, overconfidence, impatience, arrogance, and simple political partisanship. ... The justices did almost everything wrong. They embarrassed themselves and the Supreme Court."

...Toobin is unsparing in his criticism of the Court's conduct in Bush v. Gore. He writes, "their performance ... amounted to a catalogue of their worst flaws as judges," and he lists those flaws judge by judge. Some of them: William Rehnquist - intellectually lazy and politically partisan; Sandra Day O'Connor - unprincipled and impatient; Antonin Scalia - bullying advocacy in lieu of reasoned analysis, naked bias for the Republican Party; Anthony Kennedy - basic judicial ineptitude compounded by empty rhetoric; Clarence Thomas - sullen withdrawal and reflexive partisanship; Stephen Breyer - favouring muddleheaded compromise. Only Justices John Paul Stevens and David Souter, in Toobin's view, stood apart from the "inept and unsavoury manner that the justices exercised their power." Later, when confronted with criticism of Bush v. Gore, Justice Scalia's terse comment was "get over it."

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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