Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Lengths a SCOTUS Junky Will Go for a Little Jeffrey Toobin Reading

(Apparently we've been slacking on our blog posting.  I know this because a vehemently anti-social media pal called me this morning to ask why we hadn't posted anything recently.  My excuse?  I'm lazy.  It's hot.  The Olympics are on and Gianna and I have exchanged more than one text debating whether synchronized diving is a sport--it's not, unless they are forcibly conjoined; then it gets interesting and weird--or just falling gracefully.  We're sorry, though.  Gianna promises to be better, and I promise...very little, actually.  We're gearing up for the fall book rush, so maybe a summer break was in order.)

Back during the spring sales conference, Doubleday announced a new book by Jeffrey Toobin, legal analyst and author of The Nine.  Most of the time I nurture my English major side and read fiction, catching up on non-fiction via audiobooks in the car.  I was a History major in college too, though, and there are certain topics that turn me into a junky jonesing for the crack rock of, say, books about the Supreme Court.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg is one of my heroes. I'm pretty sure that Elena Kagan would like to have dinner with me.  I loved The Nine, a history of the Rehnquist era Supreme Court, because Toobin is the master of writing about complex legal issues for non-lawyers.  Also, he doesn't pander.  He's smart and he writes for smart people, but he doesn't lose his readers with jargon.  Jeffrey Toobin educates, and he's a great teacher.  His new book, The Oath, had me giddy, but there was a problem: Toobin was waiting for the end of the Supreme Court term before completing his new book.

Jeffrey Toobin,
probably a great dinner date
I admit that I'm spoiled.  When one of my publishers announces a book that excites me, I normally am about three clicks away from access to the manuscript.  I'm not patient.  I'm really not patient when I am already a fan of an author's previous works.  So when the historic court ruling regarding Obama's healthcare law came down and a Doubleday editor sent us an email about the decision, The Oath, and the end of the Court term, I was twitching in anticipation.  This Doubleday editor, let's call him Evil Lord Yankees Fan, he has terrible taste in baseball clubs, but he also possessed what I wanted.  I replied back to his email stating how excited I was to read the new Toobin book and begging for the manuscript.  I sort of suggested that I would wear nothing for Yankees attire for a full week if he'd send me the manuscript. The Evil Lord Yankees Fan does have a playful side and sense of humor.  Terms were set--one week of Yankees clothes, photographic proof posted on the Facebook, no hiding inside my house and never going out in public.

Those are some ominous
clouds in the background.
Suddenly I was posting truly horrific pictures on my Facebook page and enduring many, many comments from alleged friends.  One person suggested that I be careful because Yankees fans can't be trusted since they obviously make terrible decisions (as evidenced by their taste in baseball teams).  I take my baseball seriously and I hate the Yankees, so wearing their logo for a week wasn't easy.  The Yankees represent everything that's wrong with baseball (obnoxious fans, asshole players, arrogant ownership, too much money, members of the American League) and I even rooted against them in the 2001 World Series, when the entire world beyond the borders of Arizona wanted a Series victory for the Yankees in the wake of 9-11.  Maybe it was just a coincidence, but it rained every single day that I wore the Yankees crap, and Austin's been in a drought for years now.  Even the atmosphere is upset at the notion of my donning Yankees  crap.  I really wanted to read this book, though.

Even the leaders of tomorrow know
that the Yankees suck today.
Did the Evil Lord Yankees Fan deliver?  Was it worth it?  Yes, and yes.  The day after the Yankees challenge ended, the manuscript arrived in my inbox.

The Oath examines the parallel ascents of Barack Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts, and offers a history of the Supreme Court over the last two Presidential terms.  The Supreme Court of Rehnquist's era, characterized by moderate Republican leadership and Sandra Day O'Conner as the swing vote, no longer exists.  Four new justices--Roberts, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan--now sit on the bench, and the new lines have been drawn.  There's no such thing as a moderate Republican anymore, and the new Court advocated rapid changes to laws while Obama urged caution and restraint.  In effect, Obama is the conservative here.  He's fighting to keep the court from rolling back decades of legal decisions (Roe v. Wade was passed before I was born and it's still the nation's biggest point of contention) while the new tone of the Court suggests major changes with long lasting repercussions.
That's a Harry Carey mask (Cubs), an Astros
foam paw, and an ugly Yankees shirt.
Nightmares, anyone?

To say The Oath is timely is an understatement. Gun control. Women's rights.  Healthcare.  The Tea Party. Campaign finance reform.  Corporations-as-people.  These are the issues upon which the Supreme Court is ruling.  The Court is a microcosm of the country as a whole (except populated by much, much smarter people); the issues dividing the nation are represented among these nine people.  And as I said, Toobin is the master at bringing forth the drama and significance of legal decisions so that non-lawyers can relate to what's at stake.  I can't wait to talk about it with other people...this fall, when everyone else gets to read it.

Anyone need Yankees crap?  I am accepting offers....

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