Author: Joan Biskupic
Publisher: New York: Basic Books, 2019. 432p.
Reviewer: Jack E. Call | July 2019
With Justice Kennedy retired, it seems likely that Chief Justice Roberts will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the Supreme Court on several issues, including abortion, affirmative action, voting rights, and the proper place for race in setting policy goals at the federal level. Thus, students of the Court and the public in general are fortunate to have Joan Biskupic’s important book that is filled with insights into Roberts’s career and his legal philosophy. A legal conservative by nature, Roberts clerked for Justice Rehnquist, was a lawyer in the Reagan administration, and served as deputy solicitor general in the first President Bush administration.
Professor Jack Call’s thoughtful review gives readers a taste of the level of detail in the Roberts biography. As he puts it, this biography “provides a great deal of material relevant to the question of whether Roberts is likely to be the new swing Justice.” Biskupic is a “well-respected observer of the Court,” who relied in this book on “extensive sources of information” that include “interviews with a majority of the Supreme Court Justices (as well as Roberts himself).”
Professor Call notes that the biography has very little on the likely direction of the Court’s criminal justice doctrine but Call nonetheless concludes that “few observers of the Court will take issue with Biskupic’s conclusion that ‘[Roberts] is positioned in the center in every way, and the law will likely be what he says it is.’”