Read Closed Chambers: The First Eyewitness Account of the Epic Struggles Inside the Supreme Court by Edward Lazarus Online


Edward Lazarus, a former Supreme Court clerk to Justice Harry Blackmun, spills the beans on an institution that values silence. Nobody is supposed to understand what happens behind the scenes of the high court--that's why the justices rarely speak to the media--but Lazarus tells all he knows from his time as a top aide to Blackmun in the Supreme Court's 1988 term. There'sEdward Lazarus, a former Supreme Court clerk to Justice Harry Blackmun, spills the beans on an institution that values silence. Nobody is supposed to understand what happens behind the scenes of the high court--that's why the justices rarely speak to the media--but Lazarus tells all he knows from his time as a top aide to Blackmun in the Supreme Court's 1988 term. There's a lot of legal theory and history, but it's well presented and usually focuses on touchstone issues in U.S. politics; cases involving abortion, the death penalty, and racial preferences receive sustained treatment in these pages. There are gossipy bits, too, revealing unflattering details about several current justices. Sure to be one of the more controversial books of the year. --John J. Miller...

Title : Closed Chambers: The First Eyewitness Account of the Epic Struggles Inside the Supreme Court
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780812924022
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 576 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Closed Chambers: The First Eyewitness Account of the Epic Struggles Inside the Supreme Court Reviews

  • Lobstergirl
    2019-02-12 16:10

    Edward Lazarus clerked for Justice Harry Blackmun in the 1988-89 Supreme Court term. This book is part history, part "clerk life" memoir, and part legal analysis of death penalty cases, abortion cases from Roe v. Wade to Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), and race issues that confronted the Court. Lazarus is an admitted liberal, but he bemoans the politicization of the court, which is supposed to be the one nonpolitical branch of government. On the liberal side, William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall, who had determined for themselves that the death penalty should be abolished, automatically voted to stay every execution which came to the Court regardless of what constitutional issues it presented. This poisoned the environment and led to a loss of camaraderie, Lazarus argues. He has plenty of bad things to say about the conservatives too, such as inconsistent adherence to stare decisis, judicial activism, originalism, and textualism. At their worst, the justices act not like the judges they are supposed to be, but lawyers (advocates). At their worst they know what they want a result to be, and they shoehorn their legal reasoning in opinions to fit an ideological bias.It was interesting to learn how much the clerks not only craft the opinions (depending on the justice, of course), but also manipulate the justices to get the results the clerks want.

  • Patrick Farrell
    2019-01-18 13:18

    I found this book to be mildly entertaining. The author's bias oozes from the portions referring to past decisions of the Court. While he is more neutral when discussing issues occuring during his term as a clerk, it makes it hard to trust his analysis.Overall a decent read, but it doesn't stack up with recent accounts of the Supreme Court.

  • Adrienne
    2019-01-31 16:08

    This is one of the first insider tell all type books about the Supreme Court. I found it to be self congratulatory and laced with unnecessary pontification. I did not make it all the way through.

  • Alvin Johnson
    2019-02-05 16:06

    This treatise, along with Bob Woodward's 'The Bretheren', brings home the fact that the court sysytem, evn at its highest level, is subject to human frailties.

  • Brian
    2019-02-08 15:56

    It took me a while to get through all of "Closed Chambers," but I am glad that I did. The book, even though it was written in 1998 and is mainly about the Supreme Court's 1988 term, covers issues that are still timely and relevant. With hearings starting this week on Samuel Alito, this review comes at a good time.The book covers a lot of Supreme Court history, particularly "how we got where we are today." It opened my eyes to how the Court works, and how single "centrist" Justices can carve out new areas of law whenever the Court is sharply divided on an issue. Edward Lazarus is especially critical of the hypocrisy of the Justices, who stand by stare decisis (the principle of being bound by precedent, even if it was wrongly decided) when it suits them, while discarding the principle when they don't like the previous decision. This book is definitely worth a read, as it will teach you a lot about the inner workings of the Court, and why decisions like Roe v. Wade are still in question even though they were decided 30 years ago (I'll give you a preview: the Roe v. Wade decision was, at best, a legal stretch which was poorly written as far as its justification in the law). I give it 3.5 stars.

  • Jeff
    2019-01-25 19:23

    I read this book shortly after it appeared about a decade ago and to be honest I can't remember much about it beyond: a) Lazarus is clearly a major-league asshole, b) he harbors a bizarre, almost irrational, hatred of Jude Alex Kozinski, and c) he had little respect for the intellectual abilities of Justice Harry Blackmun, for whom Lazarus clerked.Lazarus does deserve credit for being an early proponent of what, in light of Linda Greenhouse's subsequent book Becoming Justice Blackmun, has come to be the conventional wisdom that Justice Blackmun was a total mediocrity.

  • B
    2019-01-24 11:58

    Was not looking forward to this because I bought it thinking I was getting "The Forgotten Memoir of John Knox: A Year in the Life of a Supreme Court Clerk in FDR's Washington." The book's subhead "The First Eyewitness Account of hte Epic Struggles Inside the Supreme Court" is wrong at the least. Still, some of the stories are very interesting as stories despite the very, very well-trod turf that Lazarus walks on.Well-researched and well-written, too.His thesis that Supreme Court Justices should deliberate more seems like an answer without a question. It's not clear what the point is other than general niceness. I think it required some more deep thinking about whether there would be better outcomes or whether it is structurally plausible anyway.

  • Shailey
    2019-01-30 12:18

    Read about 1/2 of this book. I really enjoyed it, and I think that I would have enjoyed it more if I would have read it pre-law school or a couple of more years down the line. Everything is still too fresh in my mind, I still remember reading these cases and hearing these discussions in the class room. I am not too nostaglic for it either, so maybe in a couple years, when law school didn't seem like such a horrible experience, I'll feel better about reminicing about the academics of it all.

  • nick maxwell
    2019-01-19 17:53

    If you want to learn about the legal history behind two of the most contentious current issues (right to privacy/abortion and death penalty), this book is really good. It is well-written (by a former clerk for a Supreme Court Justice) and ties the actual legal stuff in well with the general atmosphere of the times. It also spends a few chapters each on employment discrimination and affirmative action.

  • Alisa
    2019-02-11 11:10

    There are so few books that claim to give you gossip about the Supreme Court. Therefore, this the probably the best book ever written. Information about cases, private letters between justices, sweeping indictments of the system, COULD YOU ASK FOR MORE? Yes, I could ask for it to be a little more current. He clerked there in '88-'89. Still.

  • Elaine
    2019-01-17 14:09

    A riveting book written by a former clerk of Justice Harry Blackmun, who chronicles his time at the Supreme Court as well as the recent history of three hot areas of Constiutional Law to assert that the Court is currently beset by an unprecedented rift related to ideological orientation. This is about as intimate a picture of the notoriously private Court that you can get.

  • Esther
    2019-02-04 12:07

    Written by a former Blackmun clerk. Provides a lot of historical and legal context to the death penalty and abortion debates. Alternately depressing and distressing as it details the deliberate and politicized conservative counterrevolution to the rights revolution of the Warren era.

  • Handel
    2019-01-19 12:55

    Very fascinating account of the supreme court and historical narrative of the US regarding race, abortion and divisive topics in legal arena. Best non-fiction book I have read on contemporary American society in my short life.

  • Clare
    2019-02-06 14:05

    So far, this book is awesome. A review on the covers calls it, among other things, "opinionated, scholarly, gossipy," and I am finding that delightfully true!Even if you have never read a Supreme Court case, I think you would enjoy this book.

  • LT
    2019-02-10 19:10

    I picked this up on a whim at a used book store in Boston, thinking it might be a good way to get me psyched to study the law. It's incredibly well-written and as far as I can tell it presents a pretty even-handed account of the workings of the Supreme Court. Memoir+legal theory+history.

  • Danis
    2019-02-16 19:20

    Kellog Hubbard bk.Excellent analysis, opinion, history

  • G. Branden
    2019-02-08 12:14

    Lengthy but ridiculously informative about one of the U.S.'s most mystique-laden institutions.

  • Andrew
    2019-01-26 18:07

    I should have read this one already

  • Ceema Samimi-Luu
    2019-02-04 16:53

    I was really excited to read this book after hearing so much about it. However, I just couldn't seem to get into it enough to keep going. I tried, but only made it a little way in.

  • A K
    2019-02-05 13:54

    Excellent. The consequence of having law clerks who are merely out of lawschool (mid-20s) deciding the fate of thsi country is pheonmenal. Ground breaking to know.

  • Mike
    2019-02-05 12:09

    You have to be a real Court junkie to slog through this one. But for those of us who follow the Justices like others follow Paris and LiLo, it's gossipy and intellectually fascinating read.

  • Amy
    2019-02-14 12:04

    Guessing this might be a bit dated but looking forward to giving it a try sometime

  • Jack
    2019-02-13 15:54

    This is a great, comprehensive look at SCOTUS. I read this book two years ago but I still go back to it to look-up passages that I remember as relevant and interesting.

  • Matthew
    2019-01-21 13:56

    incisive look at SCOTUS. liked the conservative clerk cabal the best.