Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court

From the prizewinning author of The Nine, a gripping insider's account of the momentous ideological war between the John Roberts Supreme Court and the Obama administration.

From the moment John Roberts, the chief justice of the United States, blundered through the Oath of Office at Barack Obama's inauguration, the relationship between the Supreme Court and the White House has been confrontational. Both men are young, brilliant, charismatic, charming, determined to change the course of the nation—and completely at odds on almost every major constitutional issue. One is radical; one essentially conservative. The surprise is that Obama is the conservative—a believer in incremental change, compromise, and pragmatism over ideology. Roberts—and his allies on the Court—seek to overturn decades of precedent: in short, to undo the ultimate victory FDR achieved in the New Deal.
This ideological war will crescendo during the 2011-2012 term, in which several landmark cases are on the Court's docket—most crucially, a challenge to Obama's controversial health-care legislation. With four new justices joining the Court in just five years, including Obama's appointees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, this is a dramatically—and historically—different Supreme Court, playing for the highest of stakes.
No one is better positioned to chronicle this dramatic tale than Jeffrey Toobin, whose prize-winning bestseller The Nine laid bare the inner workings and conflicts of the Court in meticulous and entertaining detail. As the nation prepares to vote for President in 2012, the future of the Supreme Court will also be on the ballot.

My Thoughts

It just so happened that on the day the Supreme Court was going to issue it’s ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA aka Obamacare), I had an appointment with my physician whose office is located within a hospital. Hmmmm - healthcare reform + doctor + hospital - seemed like a good time to ask people their opinion of the Affordable Care Act and their perception on how it would impact them. I, along with the rest of the country was anxiously awaiting the ruling. When it was announced that the Court decided to uphold the ACA, and this decision involved a stunning vote from Chief Justice John Roberts, I was curious as to how the Court came to their final decision.

As luck would have it, this book showed up on my radar screen and seemed like it might have the answers I was looking for. Not only did it do that, but The Oath provided me with a brief education on the Court and the Justices.

The book begins with the flubbed oath taking that started President Obama’s current term. It ends with the Court agreeing to rule on the constitutionality of the PPACA, the arguments presented by both sides, and the decision making process of the final rule. In between are chapters that talked about past and present justices, how they came to be on the Court and some of their beliefs and background that help shape whether they are conservative or liberal.

I learned a great deal from this book. I really like Mr. Toobin’s writing style. He is informative, yet entertaining. It certainly appears to be well researched. As someone with no legal background, I found the book to be fairly readable in that it did not contain too much legal speak. 
I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the workings of the Supreme Court and how their decisions impact the nation.

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