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American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

American Original The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia The first full scale biography of the Supreme Court s most provocative and influential justiceIf the U S Supreme Court teaches us anything it is that almost everything is open to interpretation Almos

  • Title: American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
  • Author: Joan Biskupic
  • ISBN: 9780374202897
  • Page: 162
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The first full scale biography of the Supreme Court s most provocative and influential justiceIf the U.S Supreme Court teaches us anything, it is that almost everything is open to interpretation Almost But what s inarguable is that, while the Court has witnessed a succession of larger than life jurists in its two hundred year plus history, it has never seen the likes ofThe first full scale biography of the Supreme Court s most provocative and influential justiceIf the U.S Supreme Court teaches us anything, it is that almost everything is open to interpretation Almost But what s inarguable is that, while the Court has witnessed a succession of larger than life jurists in its two hundred year plus history, it has never seen the likes of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Combative yet captivating, infuriating yet charming, the outspoken jurist remains a source of curiosity to observers across the political spectrum and on both sides of the ideological divide And after nearly a quarter century on the bench, Scalia may be at the apex of his power Agree with him or not, Scalia is the justice who has had the most important impact over the years on how we think and talk about the law, as the Harvard law dean Elena Kagan, now U.S Solicitor General, once put it.Scalia electrifies audiences to hear him speak is to remember him to read his writing is to find his phrases permanently affixed in one s mind But for all his public grandstanding, Scalia has managed to elude biographers until now In American Original The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the veteran Washington journalist Joan Biskupic presents for the first time a detailed portrait of this complicated figure and provides a comprehensive narrative that will engage Scalia s adherents and critics alike Drawing on her long tenure covering the Court, and on unprecedented access to the justice, Biskupic delves into the circumstances of his rise and the formation of his rigorous approach to the bench Beginning with the influence of Scalia s childhood in a first generation Italian American home, American Original takes us through his formative years, his role in the Nixon Ford administrations, and his trajectory through the Reagan revolution Biskupic s careful reporting culminates with the tumult of the contemporary Supreme Court where it was and where it s going, with Scalia helping to lead the charge.Even as Democrats control the current executive and legislative branches, the judicial branch remains rooted in conservatism President Obama will likely appoint several new justices to the Court but it could be years before those appointees change the tenor of the law With his keen mind, authoritarian bent, and contentious rhetorical style, Scalia is a distinct and persuasive presence, and his tenure is far from over This new book shows us the man in power his world, his journey, and the far reaching consequences of the transformed legal landscape.

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    1 thought on “American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

    1. Justice Scalia is one of those people I'd love to have over for dinner (even though I don't quite have his love of opera,) but I don't buy his premise that he's an originalist, i.e. one who argues that the law is to be interpreted in light of the intent of the framers. I mean really, then we'd be back implementing the 3/5ths rule, and I don't buy the idea that the framers all thought monolithically. He despises the idea of a "living Constitution," yet refuses to answer questions that seem to go [...]

    2. The History Book Club undoubtedly chose this book so that we could all learn about the jurisprudence and legacy of the recently deceased Justice Scalia. It’s a mark of my own ignorance, but all I really knew about him was that he was reputed to be the most conservative Supreme Court Justice to serve in my lifetime. Other than Bush v. Gore and Citizens United, I really didn’t know the details of how that conservatism made itself felt in his decisions and their impact on the world. So I was qu [...]

    3. When I first started reading American Original, I hadn't really realized that it was written prior to Scalia's death. I had expected a biography of the man, which it is in part. What Biskupic really focuses on is Scalia's theory of Originalism; that is, interpreting the law the way the constitution was written. Each chapter focuses on a different topic and the cases about them such as civil, human, and women's rights, the Bush v. Gore election, religion, and cases where the justices should recus [...]

    4. This was actually harder to read than I had anticipated. The book focused more on his rulings, and it is really hard to see him as something other than an intolerant buffoon with a knack for hyperbole and exaggeration. He characterizes himself as an "originalist" (one who interprets the Constitution as it was originally written), but his rulings seem to indicate that he is inconsistent in applying that philosophy. When the "originalist" criteria doesn't seem to fit, he invokes his moral compass [...]

    5. Lucid and well-researchedJoan Biskupic's many years of covering the Supreme Court for The Washington Post and USA Today pay off in this very engaging biography. She includes just enough detail about Justice Scalia's upbringing and family to round out the picture -- but she focuses astutely on his remarkable legal record as America's most influential conservative jurist. She understands the cases; she understands the bigger legal picture, and she understands the personalities. Some of her comment [...]

    6. A very disappointing book. I give the book two stars instead of one only because it is well-written, but it is so loaded with left-wing bias and ignorance of basic legal history that is painful to read at times. For example, the author regularly refers to "abortion rights" and "gay rights" in the Constitution even though one can read the Constitution cover-to-cover and not find even the slightest reference to them, whereas she deliberately avoids using the phrase "gun rights" even though she dev [...]

    7. I have to begin this review by pointing out that I'm not a Scalia fan. I picked up this book in an attempt to understand a judicial philosophy that I find anathema to my own views. That said, this book accomplished everything I had hoped it would for me. First, I must note that the author is extremely balanced and fair (whew, that seems like a loaded phrase these days!) in her depiction of Scalia. The author reveals nothing about her personal views of politics or constitutional interpretation an [...]

    8. Informative. Interesting. Written by someone not sympathetic to Scalia's views and understanding of the law and the Constitution. She looks like she's trying to be even-handed, but her bias nevertheless shows through at numerous points, often times simply in her choice of words. Regardless, I have learned a good deal about the man and a number of the cases in which he participated. At times Biskupic's narrative becomes tiringly tedious to this non-legal reader as she belabors one legal case afte [...]

    9. The material on Justice Scalia's early life is interesting. As with most books dealing with contemporary events or figures, the closer to the present day we get, the more Joan Biskupic gets wrapped up in her own biases. Its obvious she is not a fan of Scalia's jurisprudence, and the book turns into a bunch of "gotchas" by the time she starts writing about the mid-90s onward.In short, first 130-150 pages are worth reading. The rest is 'eh.'

    10. I don't know what Biskupic's ideology is, but I get the feeling that she's not a Scalia fan, which taints this book somewhat. It's not like I want to read hagiographies, but I don't really care to interpret incredulous reactions about the subject of the book in a biography, either. Not terrible, but could have been a lot better.

    11. Some interesting, heretofore unknown (at least to me) biographical detail about Justice Scalia, it is very apparent that Biskupic neither sympathizes with, nor understands particularly well, Justice Scalia's jurisprudential philosophy or its origins. The former is forgivable, but not the latter.

    12. A great recap of the justices life but also the internal debates of the Supreme Court surrounding the most controversial and impactful opinions of Justice Scalia's tenure. This is a book a layperson could pick up and appreciate Justice Scalia's impact or a seasoned lawyer could read for an understanding of the mindset of the justices and the impact some opinions have had on American Jurisprudence

    13. Even though I disagree with him on several issues, I've always like Antonin Scalia. He was a brilliant writer with the kind of razor-sharp pen and sarcastic, acerbic wit that makes his opinions interesting. And I think the Supreme Court should be a place of passionate legal debate, not a bench of nine people who simply rubber-stamp my preferences.So after Scalia passed away, I wanted to read a biography that gave me a better idea of the man. The main alternative to this book seemed like it had a [...]

    14. I don't know much about the Supreme Court (basically only what the redheaded Court-analyst lady on MacNeil/Lehrer says) but Justice Scalia has long been on my list of "If you could have five people to dinner" on style points alone. Hes brilliant, combative, funny, and thoroughly and sincerely committed to his philosophy. Turns out I disagree on at least half of that philosophy, but I can respect an honest proponent of most viewpoints making an articulate and reasoned case for their side. Actuall [...]

    15. Not much life story.If this first-ever biography of the colorful and prickly Associate Justice were a New Yorker profile, it would merit four stars; if an Atlantic Monthly feature, three. It is an accessible and compact survey of Scalia's public writings and pronouncements, and of public commentary on them. But as biography, it is disappointing.Biskupic devotes only 21 pages to the first 38 years of her subject's life--the very period the reader is most curious about. How can this be called biog [...]

    16. This is an anti-Scalia book. I do not recommend it if this is the only book you plan to read about Scalia. If you are going to read this book do so after reading at least one balanced or positive view of Justice Scalia. The author chose a side and made it obvious throughout the book. In places where her language should have been neutral, she used pejorative terms instead. On the plus side, the author did help me see the Federal court system has become anti-Constitutional and even anti-American. [...]

    17. The library beckons. I must return the book. Actually I renewed it, but I am not really making progress, reading a only few pages in bed every night before the book hits my nose. So, I am stopping halfway through. My nose needs to heal. My son, the lawyer, highly recommended the book. It is good. If I was a laywer I might have finished it. The book describes the career of Antonin Scalia and how he rose through the ranks to become a supreme court justice. The book also describes how the supreme c [...]

    18. Whew, I finally finished this! It was slow-going at times because it is densely packed with analysis of nearly thirty years of cases and, not only Scalia's jurisprudence, but that of the other justices serving during his tenure on the Court. Biskupic's research is exhaustive and well documented in notes and bibliography. I didn't race through at my usual pace and found I had at least one highlight or note, often more, on nearly every page. I've long been an admirer of the author's columns and he [...]

    19. This author was remarkably even-handed in her discussion of Justice Scalia and his jurisprudential philosophy, which is an impressive feat. Scalia is such a polarizing figure that to acknowledge both the merits and problems of his thinking and his approach to judging requires resolve and skill (and probably gratitude for his cooperation). The author explains the legal concepts that the Court considered clearly and correctly without watering things down, with the only exception being the use of " [...]

    20. There is just something about how Justice Antonin Scalia approached a legal problem that stirred either unrestrained praise of vituperative objection. His--by several accounts--engaging personality seems belied by an at times mean-spirited pen, especially when writing dissent. That trait, coupled with unquestioned intelligence, makes him a fascinating study. Joan Biskupic paints a marvelous portrait of a complex man , born the only child of a language professor in New York. Though a divisive fig [...]

    21. Scalia is an incredibly smart man who really believes in what he's doing, and for that you must admire him. However, I think some of his decisions are impossible to reconcile with his originalist viewpoint. This book does a thorough job of documenting this, but never without staying fair. I just bought Justice Breyer's book on the living Constitution, it should be a perfect counterpoint to this book.On another note, this book made me realize just how much I forgot about con law after graduating [...]

    22. My mentor, Geneva Haertel, gave me this book a few years ago, and when she died this year, I decided to read it. I learned a lot about his legal philosophy, his dedication to the craft of writing, his sociability, his mentorship of a generation of lawyers, his Catholic faith and commitment to family, and his love of opera, hunting, and tennis. It was refreshing to see a 360-degree depiction of a controversial political figure for a change.

    23. Overall, a great biographical sketch of Scalia, his life, and judicial philosophy. The author, no matter how deferential to Scalia’s intelligence, is in obvious disagreement with his opinions. She tries very hard, however, to present a balanced view of the Justice and the consistent policy of judicial interpretation he espouses.

    24. Enjoyed this very much. Not only learned a lot about this Supreme Court Justice, also learned so much about the workings and dynamics of the Supreme Court. Author's research and presentation is quite impressive.

    25. A fairly balanced look at Scalia. I disagree totally with 'originalists' - in my judgment the constitution was intended to be a living evolving document. But the man and justice is an interesting and complex person.

    26. Excellent book of its genre. The author is a leading Supreme Court journalist. She obtained unprecedented access, and yet provided an unusually blunt, informed, and otherwise useful analysis, which she amplified also on my weekly radio show.

    27. A fascinating look at the mind of one of our Supreme Court Justices, whose opinions are usually quite the opposite of mine. Helps to understand where the Court may be going in the future - and it's a bit scary.

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