An “All-Star Lineup” of Books on the Court

October 24, 2012 —

As Claire Cushman, author of Courtwatchers: Eyewitness Accounts in Supreme Court History, told the story, the late Justice Hugo Black used to care so deeply about the Court’s cases that he couldn’t sleep at night. So his wife, Elizabeth, would calmly suggest bourbon. 

“‘Hugo is terribly inhibited about liquor and usually wants me to be the one to suggest it,” Elizabeth noted in her diary. “[T]he next morning he awakes as bright and clear-minded as can be.’” 

The focus of the Supreme Court Institute’s “Supreme Court Book Forum,” held here on October 22, was more literature than law. 

“The Supreme Court is about more than just its opinions,” said Tony Mauro, the Supreme Court correspondent for the National Law Journal. 

Mauro led what Institute Director Irv Gornstein called “an all-star lineup of authors” of books on the Court: Cushman, Anthony Franze (The Last Justice), Jeffrey Toobin (The Nine and The Oath: The Obama White House vs. The Supreme Court) and Todd Peppers and Artemus Ward (In Chambers: Stories of Supreme Court Clerks and Their Justices).

The challenge for such authors is the “intensely private” nature of the Supreme Court, which also adds to its intrigue. Papers like Elizabeth Black’s are disappearing. Law clerks reportedly sign a code of conduct promising confidentiality. Still, the number of Court books seems to be growing.

“I have written enthusiastically about every author here,” Mauro said. “I’m a big fan of anybody who sheds more light on the Supreme Court, and they’ve all done a great job of that.”

The event was recorded by Georgetown Law and by C-SPAN’s BookTV.

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