Academic journal article Law & Society Review

A Good Quarrel: America's Top Legal Reporters Share Stories from Inside the Supreme Court

Academic journal article Law & Society Review

A Good Quarrel: America's Top Legal Reporters Share Stories from Inside the Supreme Court

Article excerpt

A Good Quarrel: America's Top Legal Reporters Share Stories From Inside the Supreme Court. By Timothy R. Johnson and Jerry Goldman, eds. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2009. 187 pp. $65.00 cloth. $24.95 paper.

This collection of 11 narratives provides a terrific resource for civic and college education in living rooms or classrooms. Accessible to readers at the high-school level but engaging to more sophisticated readers as well, this pithy volume (about 200 pages in all) will enhance libraries of specialists and generalists alike.

The editors have gathered narratives from accomplished reporters who have covered the U.S. Supreme Court extensively in print or broadcast media, including such established experts as Lyle Denniston, Fred Graham, and Nina Totenberg. Each reporter has related fascinating details from oral arguments in a single case from the Court's docket. The editors have also provided an introductory chapter for the book and an introductory paragraph for each reporter's chapter. The introductory chapter surveys justices' assessments of the value of oral arguments succinctly, thereby acquainting readers with questions they might want to pose as they go through the reporters' chapters. The editors' introductory paragraphs deftly complement reporters' contextualizations of cases. The brief bibliography will not intimidate tyros or laypersons.

The editors have also festooned the margins of the book with icons that index excerpts of oral arguments stored at http:// www.goodquarrel.com, the Web site designed to enhance the book with auditory experiences. These excerpts enable readers to deepen their appreciation of the give and take between justices and advocates in which the former tend to treat the latter as if they were research assistants or gofers. As the reporters characterize the major features of the arguments, readers may listen to confirm some characterizations or to question others.

Some of the Supreme Court cases are landmarks; some are less famous or infamous. Most instructors will be far more familiar with Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow (2004) than with Forsyth County, Georgia v. the Nationalist Movement (1992), in each of which litigants insisted on representing themselves before the Court. Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) and Bush v. …

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