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In her own words, Ruth Bader Ginsburg offers an intimate look at her life and career, though an extraordinary series of conversations with the head of the National Constitution Center.
Conversations with RBG is a remarkable and unique book, an informal portrait of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, drawing on a series of her conversations with Jeffrey Rosen, starting in the 1990s and continuing through the Trump era. Rosen, a veteran legal journalist, scholar, and president of the National Constitution Center, shares with us the justice’s observations on a variety of topics, and her intellect, compassion, sense of humor, and humanity shine through. The affection they have for each other as friends is apparent in their banter and in their shared love for the Constitution and for opera.
With Justice Ginsburg’s approval, Rosen has collected her wisdom from their many conversations in which she discusses the future of the Supreme Court and Roe v. Wade, her favorite dissents, the cases she would most like to see overruled, the #MeToo movement, how to be a good listener, how to lead a productive and compassionate life. These frank exchanges illuminate the steely determination, self-mastery, and wit that have inspired women and men of all ages to embrace the “Notorious RBG.”
Whatever the topic, Justice Ginsburg always has something interesting—and often surprising—to say. And while few of us will ever have the opportunity to chat with her face-to-face, Jeffrey Rosen brings us by her side as never before. Conversations with RBG is a deeply felt portrait of an American hero.
The only man to serve as president and chief justice, who approached every decision in constitutional terms, defending the Founders’ vision against new populist threats to American democracy
William Howard Taft never wanted to be president and yearned instead to serve as chief justice of the United States. But despite his ambivalence about politics, the former federal judge found success in the executive branch as governor of the Philippines and secretary of war, and he won a resounding victory in the presidential election of 1908 as Theodore Roosevelt’s handpicked successor.
In this provocative assessment, Jeffrey Rosen reveals Taft’s crucial role in shaping how America balances populism against the rule of law. Taft approached each decision as president by asking whether it comported with the Constitution, seeking to put Roosevelt’s activist executive orders on firm legal grounds. But unlike Roosevelt, who thought the president could do anything the Constitution didn’t forbid, Taft insisted he could do only what the Constitution explicitly allowed. This led to a dramatic breach with Roosevelt in the historic election of 1912, which Taft viewed as a crusade to defend the Constitution against the demagogic populism of Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.
Nine years later, Taft achieved his lifelong dream when President Warren Harding appointed him chief justice, and during his years on the Court he promoted consensus among the justices and transformed the judiciary into a modern, fully equal branch. Though he had chafed in the White House as a judicial president, he thrived as a presidential chief justice.
A leading Supreme Court expert recounts the personal and philosophical rivalries that forged our nation's highest court and continue to shape our daily lives
The Supreme Court is the most mysterious branch of government, and yet the Court is at root a human institution, made up of very bright people with very strong egos, for whom political and judicial conflicts often become personal.
In this compelling work of character-driven history, Jeffrey Rosen recounts the history of the Court through the personal and philosophical rivalries on the bench that transformed the law—and by extension, our lives. The story begins with the great Chief Justice John Marshall and President Thomas Jefferson, cousins from the Virginia elite whose differing visions of America set the tone for the Court's first hundred years. The tale continues after the Civil War with Justices John Marshall Harlan and Oliver Wendell Holmes, who clashed over the limits of majority rule. Rosen then examines the Warren Court era through the lens of the liberal icons Hugo Black and William O. Douglas, for whom personality loomed larger than ideology. He concludes with a pairing from our own era, the conservatives William H. Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia, only one of whom was able to build majorities in support of his views.
Through these four rivalries, Rosen brings to life the perennial conflict that has animated the Court—between those justices guided by strong ideology and those who forge coalitions and adjust to new realities. He illuminates the relationship between judicial temperament and judicial success or failure. The stakes are nothing less than the future of American jurisprudence.
In this pathbreaking book, Jeffrey Rosen explores the legal, technological, and cultural changes that have undermined our ability to control how much personal information about ourselves is communicated to others, and he proposes ways of reconstructing some of the zones of privacy that law and technology have been allowed to invade. In the eighteenth century, when the Bill of Rights was drafted, the spectacle of state agents breaking into a citizen's home and rummaging through his or her private diaries was considered the paradigm case of an unconstitutional search and seizure. But during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, prosecutors were able to subpoena Monica Lewinsky's bookstore receipts and to retrieve unsent love letters from her home computer. And the sense of violation that Monica Lewinsky experienced is not unique. In a world in which everything that Americans read, write, and buy can be recorded and monitored in cyberspace, there is a growing danger that intimate personal information originally disclosed only to our friends and colleagues may be exposed to--and misinterpreted by--a less understanding audience of strangers.
Privacy is important, Rosen argues, because it protects us from being judged out of context in a world of short attention spans, a world in which isolated bits of intimate information can be confused with genuine knowledge. Rosen also examines the expansion of sexual-harassment law that has given employers an incentive to monitor our e-mail, Internet browsing habits, and office romances. And he suggests that some forms of offensive speech in the workplace--including the indignities allegedly suffered by Paula Jones and Anita Hill--are better conceived of as invasions of privacy than as examples of sex discrimination. Combining discussions of current events--from Kenneth Starr's tapes to DoubleClick's on-line profiles--with inno-vative legal and cultural analysis, The Unwanted Gaze offers a powerful challenge to Americans to be proactive in the face of new threats to privacy in the twenty-first century.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, breathtaking changes in technology are posing stark challenges to our constitutional values. From free speech to privacy, from liberty and personal autonomy to the right against self-incrimination, basic constitutional principles are under stress from technological advances unimaginable even a few decades ago, let alone during the founding era. In this provocative collection, America's leading scholars of technology, law, and ethics imagine how to translate and preserve constitutional and legal values at a time of dizzying technological change.
Constitution 3.0 explores some of the most urgent constitutional questions of the near future. Will privacy become obsolete, for example, in a world where ubiquitous surveillance is becoming the norm? Imagine that Facebook and Google post live feeds from public and private surveillance cameras, allowing 24/7 tracking of any citizen in the world. How can we protect free speech now that Facebook and Google have more power than any king, president, or Supreme Court justice to decide who can speak and who can be heard? How will advanced brain-scan technology affect the constitutional right against self-incrimination? And on a more elemental level, should people have the right to manipulate their genes and design their own babies? Should we be allowed to patent new forms of life that seem virtually human? The constitutional challenges posed by technological progress are wide-ranging, with potential impacts on nearly every aspect of life in America and around the world.
The authors include Jamie Boyle, Duke Law School; Eric Cohen and Robert George, Princeton University; Jack Goldsmith, Harvard Law School; Orin Kerr, George Washington University Law School; Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law School; Stephen Morse, University of Pennsylvania Law School; John Robertson, University of Texas Law School; Christopher Slobogin, Vanderbilt Law School; O. Carter Snead, Notre Dame Law School; Jeffrey Rosen, George Washington University Law School; Benjamin Wittes, Brookings Institution; Tim Wu, Columbia Law School; and Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard Law School.
In our zeal to catch terrorists and prevent future catastrophic events, we are going too far—largely because of irrational fears—and violating essential American freedoms. That’s the contention at the center of this persuasive new polemic by Jeffrey Rosen, legal affairs editor of The New Republic, which builds on his award-winning book The Unwanted Gaze.
Through wide-ranging reportage and cultural analysis, Rosen argues that it is possible to strike an effective and reasonable balance between liberty and security. Traveling from England to Silicon Valley, he offers a penetrating account of why well-designed laws and technologies have not always been adopted. Drawing on a broad range of sources—from the psychology of fear to the latest Code Orange alerts and airport security technologies—he also explores the reasons that the public, the legislatures, the courts, and technologists have made feel-good choices that give us the illusion of safety without actually making us safer. He describes the dangers of implementing poorly thought out technologies that can make us less free while distracting our attention from responses to terrorism that might work.
Rosen also considers the social and technological reasons that the risk-averse democracies of the West continue to demand ever-increasing levels of personal exposure in a search for an illusory and emotional feeling of security. In Web logs, chat rooms, and reality TV shows, an increasing number of citizens clutter the public sphere with private revelations best kept to themselves. The result is the peculiar ordeal of living in the Naked Crowd, in which few aspects of our lives are immune from public scrutiny. With vivid prose and persuasive analysis, The Naked Crowd is both an urgent warning about the choices we face in responding to legitimate fears of terror and a vision for a better future.
In The Most Democratic Branch, Jeffrey Rosen disagrees with both assertions. Contrary to what interest groups may claim, he contends that, from the days of John Marshall right up to the present, the federal courts by and large have reflected the opinions of the mainstream. More important, he argues that the Supreme Court is most successful when it defers to the constitutional views of the American people, as represented most notably by Congress and the Presidency. And on the rare occasion when they departed from the consensus, the result has often been a disaster.
To illustrate, Rosen provides a penetrating look at some of the most important Supreme Court cases in American history--cases involving racial equality, affirmative action, abortion, gay rights and gay marriage, the right to die, electoral disputes, and civil liberties in wartime. Rosen shows that the most notorious constitutional decisions in American history--the ones that have been most strenuously criticized, such as Dred Scott or Roe v. Wade--have gone against mainstream opinion. By contrast, the most successful decisions--from Marbury v. Madison to Brown v. Board of Education--have avoided imposing constitutional principles over the wishes of the people. Rosen concludes that the judiciary works best when it identifies the constitutional principles accepted by a majority of Americans, and enforces them unequivocally as fundamental law.
Jeffrey Rosen is one of the most respected legal experts writing today, a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine and the Legal Affairs Editor of The New Republic. The provocative arguments that he puts forth here are bound to fuel heated debate at a time when the federal judiciary is already the focus of fierce criticism.