Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Book Review: The Nine

After my 90-day fast from reading anything but the Bible, I developed a rather large stack of works on my desk that I will be churning through over the next few weeks. I read a fascinating book on a sociologist's perspective on the rise of Christianity on my trip overseas (that I will review later), but wanted to first review Jeff Toobin's book on the Supreme Court called The Nine.

Toobin is a staff writer with the New Yorker and a legal analyst for CNN, and has taken on the branch of government that I think is least known to our country, but very influential. Toobin obviously has done his homework, and is clearly writing about an area of government (the courts) that he is passionate about and enjoys. His work covers the people on the Court from the time of the Reagan administration forward, giving us a good overview of the major cases that have been decided, but more importantly helping us understand the people who have decided them.

Toobin gives us lots of background information on the inner-workings of the justices themselves and the relationships between the justices. I found this part of his work fascinating as I am intrigued by the complexities that make up the human psyche. The other reason I really enjoyed this work is because Toobin gives us clear editorials about his view of the work of the court. While you may not agree with all of Toobin's analysis of the court cases (and I didn't), it is refreshing to read someone who knows their own opinions about the topic and can defend them well. To me, it makes for great writing about a topic that could be extremely boring if kept to just the legal minutiae that makes up most of the Supreme Court's work.

On a side-note, as a pastor of a young evangelical church, I was disturbed by his analysis of Jay Sekulow's organization called ACLJ, which is a hero to many evangelicals. His discussion of how Sekulow's own family has benefited so greatly from their legal work really bothered me. You'll have to read this part on your own and make your own conclusions, but it obviously bothered me enough to mention it in this review.

On a completely different area of case work, the burden to see abortion stopped in this country continues to weigh heavy on my heart. I have a hard time understanding why liberals who claim to have such compassion for those with the least in our society have such a hard time defending the rights of the unborn. I will never understand how a compassionate and just society can mercilessly kill so many unborn children. Toobin does a good job covering the complex abortion issues that the SC faces, but I just pray that one day this terrible practice will end.

1 comment:

Dawn Orand said...

Keith,

I have not read Toobin's book, but I have read Mark Levin's book "Men in Black" which I found easy to read and very enlightening as well. Levin covers the history of judges in America from the beginning of the nation, and some of the "scary" men who have remained on the court too long. Some, such as John Jay were fine Christian men and John Jay founded the Bible Society that had the goal of reaching everyone with a Bible, particularly the American Indians.
I know Toobin is smart and articulate, but I too doubt his veracity about Jay Sekulow and his profiting from his ACLJ organization. I hope that's not true, as they seem to be defending our Christian ethic in many places in our country.
My hope is that we can have more judges that have a strict constructionist view of the Constitution so Roe v Wade can be overturned someday. It is something I pray about almost every day.