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The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction (3rd edition) [#306]
The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction (3rd edition) [#306]
  • Provides an authoritative and accessible account of the U.S. Supreme Court, its history, and recent developments
  • Shows the court at work by focusing on the people and traditions of the institution
  • Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times Supreme Court reporter

For 30 years, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Linda Greenhouse chronicled the activities of the U.S. Supreme Court and its justices as a correspondent for the New York Times. In this Very Short Introduction, she draws on her deep knowledge of the court's history and of its written and unwritten rules to show readers how the Supreme Court really works.
Greenhouse offers a fascinating institutional biography of a place and its people—men and women who exercise great power but whose names and faces are unrecognized by many Americans and whose work often appears cloaked in mystery. How do cases get to the Supreme Court? How do the justices go about deciding them? What special role does the chief justice play? What do the law clerks do? How does the court relate to the other branches of government? Greenhouse answers these questions by depicting the justices as they confront deep constitutional issues or wrestle with the meaning of confusing federal statutes. Throughout, the author examines many individual Supreme Court cases to illustrate points under discussion, including Marbury v. Madison, the seminal case which established judicial review; District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), which struck down the District of Columbia's gun-control statute and which was, surprisingly, the first time in its history that the Court issued an authoritative interpretation of the Second Amendment; and Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization (2022), which repudiated the right to abortion the Court had recognized nearly fifty years earlier in Roe v. Wade (1973). To add perspective, Greenhouse also compares the Court to foreign courts, revealing interesting differences. For instance, no other country in the world has chosen to bestow life tenure on its judges.
The third edition of Greenhouse's Very Short Introduction tracks the changes in the Court's makeup over the past decade, including the landmark decisions of the Obama and Trump eras and the emergence of a conservative supermajority.
A superb overview packed with telling details, this volume offers a matchless introduction to one of the pillars of American government.


List of illustrations

1 Origins
2 The Court at work (1)
3 The justices
4 The chief justice
5 The Court at work (2)
6 The Court and the other branches
7 The Court and the public
8 The Court and the world

Appendix 1: U.S. Constitution, Article III
Appendix 2: The Supreme Court's rules
Appendix 3: Chart of the Justices

Further reading

About the author: 

Linda Greenhouse, Senior Research Scholar in Law, Yale Law School; former Supreme Court correspondent, New York Times

Linda Greenhouse was the New York Times Supreme Court correspondent for 30 years, covering thousands of decisions written by 18 different justices. She was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in Journalism (Beat Reporting) in 1998. Since 2009, she has taught at Yale Law School while continuing to write regular opinion pieces about the Court for the Times and other publications. Her books include Becoming Justice Blackmun: Harry Blackmun's Supreme Court Journey; Justice on the Brink: A Requiem for the Supreme Court; and a memoir, Just a Journalist.

"[A] new one-of-a-kind book on the Supreme Court."" - SCOTUSblog

"Linda Greenhouse has long been one of the most astute observers of the U.S. Supreme Court and most trusted translators of its mysteries and traditions. This elegant and concise guide is invaluable for beginners and veteran court watchers alike. An ideal introduction to the Court for students and citizens of all ages." - Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law, George Washington University, and legal affairs editor, The New Republic

"There is hardly anyone in the country, outside the Court, who knows the institution and its practices as well as Linda Greenhouse does." - Melvin I. Urofsky, author of Louis D. Brandeis: A Life

"Greenhouse cogently illustrates the history, functions, composition and importance of the Supreme Court. In a slim volume that you can literally carry around in your pocket, you will find a wealth of knowledge."" - Yale Daily News

"[A]n amuse-bouche of a book . . . short, but pithy. After finishing this book, readers should be inspired to take up [Greenhouse's] implicit invitation to read about the Court and its impact on shaping American law in a more substantial, meatier format." - Judicature

"For those interested in how cases come to be heard by the Court, the process leading to a decision and the Court's relationship with the other branches of the federal government and the public, this is an excellent way to begin." - Washington Independent Review of Books

Product details

ISBN : 9780197689462

Linda Greenhouse
160 Pages
111 x 174 mm
Pub date
Sep 2023
Very Short Introductions
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The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction (3rd edition) [#306]

The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction (3rd edition) [#306]

The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction (3rd edition) [#306]