The Chief
An incisive biography of the Supreme Court's enigmatic Chief Justice, taking us inside the momentous legal decisions of his tenure so far John Roberts was named to the Supreme Court in 2005 claiming he would act as a neutral umpire in deciding cases. His critics argue he has been anything but, pointing to his conservative victories on voting rights and campaign finance. Yet he broke from orthodoxy in his decision to preserve Obamacare. How are we to understand the motives of the most powerful judge in the land? In The Chief, award-winning journalist Joan Biskupic contends that Roberts is torn between two, often divergent, priorities: to carry out a conservative agenda, and to protect the Court's image and his place in history. Biskupic shows how Roberts's dual commitments have fostered distrust among his colleagues, with major consequences for the law. Trenchant and authoritative, The Chief reveals the making of a justice and the drama on this nation's highest court.

The Chief Details

TitleThe Chief
Author
ReleaseMar 26th, 2019
PublisherBasic Books
ISBN-139780465093274
Rating
GenreBiography, Nonfiction, Law, Politics

The Chief Review

  • Jean
    January 1, 1970
    Joan Biskupic is a legal analyst who covers the Supreme Court. She has written biographies about Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia and Sonia Sotomayor.The book is well written and researched. The author covers the highlights of the Burger Court and the Rehnquist Court. She compares their style of leadership to that of Roberts. Roberts clerked for Rehnquist. Biskupic writes as a reporter, stating facts and where appropriate she provides the various theories that were reported at the time. She p Joan Biskupic is a legal analyst who covers the Supreme Court. She has written biographies about Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia and Sonia Sotomayor.The book is well written and researched. The author covers the highlights of the Burger Court and the Rehnquist Court. She compares their style of leadership to that of Roberts. Roberts clerked for Rehnquist. Biskupic writes as a reporter, stating facts and where appropriate she provides the various theories that were reported at the time. She provides no personal opinions and attempts to report in a neutral manner. There is lots of information about Justices on the Rehnquist Court and the Roberts’ Court. I have the impression there was more information about the Justices she had written biographies on in this book. The author reviewed the Court pointing out that the Roberts’ Court has struck down many laws related to civil rights, business regulation, worker’s rights and safety, and anti-corruption laws regarding monies to political campaigns. I found the information about Mitch McConnell and his fight against the McCain-Feingold Act and his lawsuit McConnell v Federal Election Commission that was heard by the Supreme Court in 2003 most interesting. Biskupic reveals some slight changes in Roberts in that he is becoming more open to compromise in recent years. The author tells of his early life and how that upbringing (elite white only schools and community) has influenced his viewpoint. I found this book most interesting and have a bit better understanding of Roberts. Since the election of Abraham Lincoln (republican) there have only been four democrats appointed Chief Justices or what is called a liberal court. All other Courts were conservative with the current one the most conservative in history. The republicans (conservatives) recently have controlled the Court since 1953I read this as an e-book downloaded from Amazon to my Kindle app on my iPad. The book is 437 pages.
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  • Bettie☯
    January 1, 1970
    In 'The Chief,' An Enigmatic, Conservative John Roberts Walks A Political Tightrope. Roberts remains an enigmatic figure. He is a committed conservative who has been publicly reviled by conservative politicians. He is a conservative who is the last best hope of liberals and moderates who dream, probably in vain, that he will significantly temper the court's turn to the right.
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  • Nabil
    January 1, 1970
    This book falls short of a holistic biography of the man at the head of the American judiciary. There are several shortcomings. Firstly, it is severely lacking in early life details, particularly Roberts' time in law school. The only novel insights the book really offers about his career that you cannot already find online are the details of his Regan years. Secondly, Biskupic focuses extensively on the tension Roberts feels between his ideology and his concern for the reputation of the Court. H This book falls short of a holistic biography of the man at the head of the American judiciary. There are several shortcomings. Firstly, it is severely lacking in early life details, particularly Roberts' time in law school. The only novel insights the book really offers about his career that you cannot already find online are the details of his Regan years. Secondly, Biskupic focuses extensively on the tension Roberts feels between his ideology and his concern for the reputation of the Court. However, the book fails to ground the latter in the historical context of other past Chief Justices, beyond passing references to Taney and Marshall. Thirdly, there are some forced arguments made in the book-- clearly Biskupic's attempt to create a narrative out of relatively scarce information about a man whom she herself refers to as an "enigma." The result is some unfair and wacky comparisons, such as between Roberts' high school admissions essay (written at age 14!) in which he says he likes to "stay ahead of the pack" and his decision as Chief Justice to separate how Chief Justices and Associate Justices are enumerated. Major stretch. Nonetheless, the book is a timely study of a man who sits now at the ideological center of the Court, who is being watched closely from all political camps to see just how he will steer his institution. The most helpful tool I gathered from the book to help understand Roberts is the explanation of the differences between the two jurists for whom he clerked: Friendly and Rehnquist. The former's concern for judicial minimalism and the latter's commitments to conservative constitutional principles have been constantly at war in Roberts' mind in his nearly four decades as an attorney and judge. Lastly, Biskupic teases us in the epilogue that she has 20 hours of almost entirely off-the-record interviews with Roberts that she conducted... So let's wait for the official bio to come out in a couple decades!
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  • Lance Cahill
    January 1, 1970
    The biography, at best, is a compilation of knowledge gleaned from mostly widely reported news stories or interviews with former colleagues that doesn’t deliver much insight. Another example that any biography is worth waiting to write when more rich resources are available. Information on CJ Roberts’ early life is relatively scant and narrow; his time in the Justice Department is left to unremarkable chapters; and the chapters regarding his time as Chief Justice leaves much to be desired (for i The biography, at best, is a compilation of knowledge gleaned from mostly widely reported news stories or interviews with former colleagues that doesn’t deliver much insight. Another example that any biography is worth waiting to write when more rich resources are available. Information on CJ Roberts’ early life is relatively scant and narrow; his time in the Justice Department is left to unremarkable chapters; and the chapters regarding his time as Chief Justice leaves much to be desired (for instance, no discussion on what many see as judicial minimalism from Roberts).Moreover, some of the history is just bad. The one example I’ll give is Owen Roberts’ supposed switch in time that saved nine. Alleged in the book, consistent with the lazy conventional view, is that Owen Roberts switched his view of the permissibility of certain government actions in response to political pressure from FDR (his court packing scheme). Based upon the best evidence available, Roberts ‘changed’ his mind (in the first conference vote after oral argument) three months prior to FDR’s announcement. Post hoc, ergo proper hoc indeed.
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  • Writemoves
    January 1, 1970
    I was afraid that this was going to be a boring book full of legal jargon, discussions of legal cases I had little interest in and a dull biography. However I enjoyed the book. I feel the author was very knowledgeable both of the Supreme Court and the background of John Roberts. Roberts was a very ambitious lawyer and judge. His views are very conservative and are viewed suspiciously by those supporting civil rights, anti discrimination efforts and pro-choice supporters.Roberts was able to "musc I was afraid that this was going to be a boring book full of legal jargon, discussions of legal cases I had little interest in and a dull biography. However I enjoyed the book. I feel the author was very knowledgeable both of the Supreme Court and the background of John Roberts. Roberts was a very ambitious lawyer and judge. His views are very conservative and are viewed suspiciously by those supporting civil rights, anti discrimination efforts and pro-choice supporters.Roberts was able to "muscle" away opposition to his goal of getting a Supreme Court nomination. He appears to be a good family man. He married late and he and his wife adopted two children as they were not able to conceive kids.Due to the very conservative makeup of the court, many hope that Roberts may be somewhat of a moderating influence. (He supported Obamacare in a legal decision). Not holding my breath that this will happen..If one is interested in recent Supreme Court history and the influence of John Roberts, Biskupic has written a very interesting and readable book.
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  • Steve Hill
    January 1, 1970
    As authoritative an analysis of Chief Justice John Roberts as we are likely to get at what probably will be the midpoint of his tenure as Chief Justice. Bikupsic persuasively makes the case that Roberts was not candid at his confirmation hearing about his views on race, which have now largely become law. He is an umpire who has not been reluctant to overturn precedent and redraw the “strike zone” to comport with his own long-held views. For me, it’s an interesting but ultimately sad story that p As authoritative an analysis of Chief Justice John Roberts as we are likely to get at what probably will be the midpoint of his tenure as Chief Justice. Bikupsic persuasively makes the case that Roberts was not candid at his confirmation hearing about his views on race, which have now largely become law. He is an umpire who has not been reluctant to overturn precedent and redraw the “strike zone” to comport with his own long-held views. For me, it’s an interesting but ultimately sad story that portends a decline in justice in America, less protection for individuals and an accelerated trend toward oligarchy.
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  • Dan Cotter
    January 1, 1970
    This book by Joan Biskupic is focused on the current Chief Justice, John Roberts. It is a very detailed biography and worth the read. For anyone thinking Roberts will become a centrist this book dispels that notion. Joan is perhaps the best SCOTUS reporter out there. Her investigation included more than 20 hours of interviews with Roberts.
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  • Harris N. Miller
    January 1, 1970
    Roberts RulesOnce again demonstrating her sophisticated understanding of the highest court in the land, Joan Biskupic has written an incredibly insightful biography of Chief Justice John Roberts. We are excited that Joan will be speaking at our summer book party.
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  • Cole Kroshus
    January 1, 1970
    An interesting and sober reminder of how bad things may become on the Supreme Court
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