“The Nine”: Inside the Supreme Court
In his book The Nine, Jeffrey Toobin analyses in details the Supreme Court of the United States of America and discusses the landmark cases that have become judicial precedents. The personalities of the various individuals attached to the court are also mentioned by the author. Toobin places the Supreme Court in the middle of the White House decisions as well as the state departments.
The first major case that has survived and kept to its ruling is the case of Roe vs. Wade. Reverse of its ruling would ban abortion in America (Toobin 3). The case was filed in 1973 by Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington on behalf of Jane Roe, a resident of Dallas. The defendant was Henry Wade, Dallas county attorney. It is an abortion case, according to which the plaintiff could not travel out of the state due to the pregnancy, and so she needed to terminate it in a safe medical environment.
The court ruling of Roe vs. Wade was made according to the argument that it was woman’s decision to abort. Mentioning of the right to privacy in the Constitution does not expressly grant it or give a list of what is private. After the interpretation, the court concluded that the right to terminate pregnancy is a private decision of an individual. Therefore, the woman was permitted to do an abortion. The decisions of the court ruled that the state law that prohibited abortion except of saving the life of the mother was unconstitutional. The case is a landmark that affects the later rulings of the American courts on the cases of abortion. Its verdict reflects judicial liberalism in the judicial system (Toobin 12).
Another case considered by Toobin is the case of Brown vs. Board of Education. The case of 1954 held in its ruling that segregation or rather separation of children to different public schools by the virtue of skin color went “...against the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” (Toobin 11). Though the decisions did not expressly eliminate the segregation, it did put a landmark against racial segregation that was widespread in most of the American states.
Oliver Brown, a representative of the plaintiff, was denied a place for his child in Topeka white school, Kansas. Brown filed a case against the school board that was dismissed by the Federal District Court under the precedent of Plessey vs. Fergusson (1896). According to the latter case, it was held that segregated institutions were equal (McBride, 2008). The Supreme Court in an appeal held that there was a violation of Equal Protection Clause. The court found that blacks were discriminated. The plaintiff obtained justice in a later 1958 case; the Supreme Court ruled that integration should be in schools, and Plessey case decision was overruled. Though this case was not decided for the plaintiff immediately, it was a major step towards integration and the end of racial segregation.
As a landmark of the end of police brutality, Tobbin explores the case of Miranda vs. Arizona. “It was in 1966 that the Supreme Court held that a suspect had a right to a legal counsellor” (Tobbin 34). It was also held that the police went against the fifth amendment of a prisoner’s right to remain silent. Further, the prisoners should be notified prior questioning that everything they speak can be used against them. The case is very important today as it sets what has been referred to Miranda’s law.
Ernesto Miranda was arrested on March 13, 1963 on the allegations of rape, kidnapping, and robbery. Miranda was not given a chance to use his rights but was questioned by the police who waived his rights to confess and agree to the accusations. The Chief Justice Earl Warren dismissed the confession as evidence in the court trial as it has been taken when the basic rights of the plaintiff had been waived without his consent (McBride, 2008). In an increasingly dramatic police world that has a power bestowed them by state, Miranda’s case protected fundamental individual rights enjoyed by the modern American society.
There are many cases and surprises described in Toobin’s book. Narrated in a way that attracts scholars concerned in the field of law and those interested in the court room matters, The Nine presents its readers with cases connected with the Supreme Court and its operations.. Abortion, political discrimination, and different police issues affect a daily life of the citizens. Change of approach towards these issues will have a tremendous effect on the society. The shocking realization is that many Americans would talk of abortion keeping in minds the concepts put forward in the case of Roe vs. Wade. Overruling of such a case would definitely affect the issue of abortion as well as the whole nation.
The most disappointing fact is that the “Supreme Court is driven on the lines of conservatism and liberalism” (Toobin 21). Namely, a judge’s verdict can depend on his/her political convictions. Even though the cases depend on judicial precedents by their ruling, personality traits of the judges still influence the decisions. One ruling of the judge can be overruled by another one based on personal view of a problem.
It should be mentioned that future of the Supreme Courts and their decisions depend on the personal traits of the elected Presidents and Senators who appoint the judges. The latter should always keep in mind the precedents of cases (Toobin 20). People differ according to their philosophies, ideologies, and ethics and this also influences their decisions.