- Hardcover: 331 pages
- Publisher: Hachette Book Group Us Agency (1 July 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1559701684
- ISBN-13: 978-1559701686
- Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.9 x 24.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #39,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Nine Scorpions in a Bottle: Great Judges and Cases of the Supreme Court Hardcover – 1 Jul 1994
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Feldman wrote during the Great Depression up through the Reagan presidency. In the 1930s, he wrote a number of pieces for the Yale Law Journal, and later—until his death 1992—he wrote columns for the New York Post. This book is comprised of the pieces concerning the Supreme Court. Some, but not all, of the pieces written in the 1930s are dated. These comprise Part I. The balance of the book is timeless. Lerner’s bios and the analysis of their opinions, of John Marshall, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Felix Frankfurter, Hugo Black, Louis Brandeis, Robert Jackson and William Douglas make this book particularly worthwhile. These comprise Part II. The pieces in Part III, under the heading, “The Interaction of Courts and Culture” are noteworthy as well. Theses pieces are: “The Vinson Regime, Caught in Midpassage,” “The Career of the Warren Court,” “Watergate as Constitutional Crisis,” “The Balancing of the Burger Court,” “The Rehnquist Court Enters History” and “Bork Wars as Confirmation Crisis.” The epilogue is entitled, “Oliver Wendell Holmes Revisited.” Holmes is of particular interest to Lerner because of his sheer brilliance and his evolving thoughts concerning free speech.
Lerner began his career as an FDR liberal and ended up as a Reagan conservative. Lerner covers the gamut of important Court decisions, from Marshall and Taney, to the conservative judicial activism of the early 20th century, to the judicial restraint of the Brandeis’ years, to the liberal judicial activism of the Warren Court, to the judicial activism of the Burger Court (notably Roe v. Wade), to the conservative judicial restraint of the Rehnquist years.
It helps being familiar with at least a few of the landmarks cases Lerner discusses. The one book I would recommend prior to reading this book is, “Lochner v. New York: Economic Regulation on Trial” by Paul Kens. This 1905 Court decision was among the most important decisions of the first half of the 20th century and continues to influence decisions to this day. Bottom line: Lerner's unique perspective informs and entertains.
I have to admit that it has changed my life; also lowered for good my perception of the quality of my own work. He is a brilliant writer and commentator. After reading it you will probably pick up a a newspaper and feel profoundly disappointed that such quality of journalism is no more.