This book is a sweeping and revealing insider look at court history and the life of William Brennan, champion of free speech and public access to information, and widely considered the most influential Supreme Court justice of the twentieth century.
Before his death, Brennan granted coauthor Stephen Wermiel access to a trove of personal and court materials that will not be available to the public until 2017. Wermiel also conducted more than 60 hours of interviews with Brennan over the course of six years. No other biographer has enjoyed this kind of access to a Supreme Court justice or to his papers.
Justice Brennan makes public for the first time the contents of what Jeffrey Toobin calls “a coveted set of documents,” Brennan’s case histories, in which he recorded the strategizing behind all the major battles of the past half century, including Roe v. Wade, affirmative action, the death penalty, obscenity law, and the constitutional right to privacy.
Revelations on a more intimate scale include how Brennan refused to hire female clerks even as he wrote groundbreaking women’s rights decisions; his complex stance as a justice and a Catholic; and new details on Brennan’s unprecedented working relationship with Chief Justice Earl Warren. This riveting information—intensely valuable to readers of all political persuasions—will cement Brennan’s reputation as epic playmaker of the Court’s most liberal era.
…the most comprehensive and well-organized look at the legendary liberal jurist to date. Stern and Wermiel dig below the popular cliché of Bill Brennan as the Constitution's Gene Kellyall twinkling eyes and glad-to-see-ya Irish charmto reveal the complicated (and quite conservative) man beneath…Where this book truly soars is in its account of Brennan's skills at…getting to five: finding a way to string together five fractious votes for some new principle or doctrine, or seeding some future principle or doctrine between the lines…Ultimately, Justice Brennan is a far more informative account of what the man achieved than why he did it.