With Justice Ginsburg’s approval, Rosen has collected her wisdom from their many conversations in which she discusses the future of the Supreme Court and Roe v. Wade, her favorite dissents, the cases she would most like to see overruled, the #MeToo movement, how to be a good listener, and how to lead a productive, compassionate life. These frank exchanges illuminate the steely determination, self-mastery, and wit that have inspired women and men of all ages to embrace the “Notorious RBG.”
Whatever the topic, Justice Ginsburg always has something interesting—and often surprising—to say. And while few of us will ever have the opportunity to chat with her face-to-face, Jeffrey Rosen brings us by her side as never before. Conversations with RBG is a deeply felt portrait of an American hero.
Constitution 3.0 explores some of the most urgent constitutional questions of the near future. Will privacy become obsolete, for example, in a world where ubiquitous surveillance is becoming the norm? Imagine that Facebook and Google post live feeds from public and private surveillance cameras, allowing 24/7 tracking of any citizen in the world. How can we protect free speech now that Facebook and Google have more power than any king, president, or Supreme Court justice to decide who can speak and who can be heard? How will advanced brain-scan technology affect the constitutional right against self-incrimination? And on a more elemental level, should people have the right to manipulate their genes and design their own babies? Should we be allowed to patent new forms of life that seem virtually human? The constitutional challenges posed by technological progress are wide-ranging, with potential impacts on nearly every aspect of life in America and around the world.
The authors include Jamie Boyle, Duke Law School; Eric Cohen and Robert George, Princeton University; Jack Goldsmith, Harvard Law School; Orin Kerr, George Washington University Law School; Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law School; Stephen Morse, University of Pennsylvania Law School; John Robertson, University of Texas Law School; Christopher Slobogin, Vanderbilt Law School; O. Carter Snead, Notre Dame Law School; Jeffrey Rosen, George Washington University Law School; Benjamin Wittes, Brookings Institution; Tim Wu, Columbia Law School; and Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard Law School.
The Supreme Court is the most mysterious branch of government, and yet the Court is at root a human institution, made up of very bright people with very strong egos, for whom political and judicial conflicts often become personal.
In this compelling work of character-driven history, Jeffrey Rosen recounts the history of the Court through the personal and philosophical rivalries on the bench that transformed the law—and by extension, our lives. The story begins with the great Chief Justice John Marshall and President Thomas Jefferson, cousins from the Virginia elite whose differing visions of America set the tone for the Court's first hundred years. The tale continues after the Civil War with Justices John Marshall Harlan and Oliver Wendell Holmes, who clashed over the limits of majority rule. Rosen then examines the Warren Court era through the lens of the liberal icons Hugo Black and William O. Douglas, for whom personality loomed larger than ideology. He concludes with a pairing from our own era, the conservatives William H. Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia, only one of whom was able to build majorities in support of his views.
Through these four rivalries, Rosen brings to life the perennial conflict that has animated the Court—between those justices guided by strong ideology and those who forge coalitions and adjust to new realities. He illuminates the relationship between judicial temperament and judicial success or failure. The stakes are nothing less than the future of American jurisprudence.
William Howard Taft never wanted to be president and yearned instead to serve as chief justice of the United States. But despite his ambivalence about politics, the former federal judge found success in the executive branch as governor of the Philippines and secretary of war, and he won a resounding victory in the presidential election of 1908 as Theodore Roosevelt’s handpicked successor.
In this provocative assessment, Jeffrey Rosen reveals Taft’s crucial role in shaping how America balances populism against the rule of law. Taft approached each decision as president by asking whether it comported with the Constitution, seeking to put Roosevelt’s activist executive orders on firm legal grounds. But unlike Roosevelt, who thought the president could do anything the Constitution didn’t forbid, Taft insisted he could do only what the Constitution explicitly allowed. This led to a dramatic breach with Roosevelt in the historic election of 1912, which Taft viewed as a crusade to defend the Constitution against the demagogic populism of Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.
Nine years later, Taft achieved his lifelong dream when President Warren Harding appointed him chief justice, and during his years on the Court he promoted consensus among the justices and transformed the judiciary into a modern, fully equal branch. Though he had chafed in the White House as a judicial president, he thrived as a presidential chief justice.