Supreme Disorder: Judicial Nominations and the Politics of America's Highest Court (Hardcover)

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"A must-read for anyone interested in the Supreme Court."—MIKE LEE, Republican senator from Utah

Politics have always intruded on Supreme Court appointments. But although the Framers would recognize the way justices are nominated and confirmed today, something is different. Why have appointments to the high court become one of the most explosive features of our system of government?

As Ilya Shapiro makes clear in Supreme Disorder, this problem is part of a larger phenomenon. As government has grown, its laws reaching even further into our lives, the courts that interpret those laws have become enormously powerful. If we fight over each new appointment as though everything were at stake, it’s because it is.

When decades of constitutional corruption have left us subject to an all-powerful tribunal, passions are sure to flare on the infrequent occasions when the political system has an opportunity to shape it. And so we find the process of judicial appointments verging on dysfunction.

Shapiro weighs the many proposals for reform, from the modest (term limits) to the radical (court-packing), but shows that there can be no quick fix for a judicial system suffering a crisis of legitimacy. And in the end, the only measure of the Court’s legitimacy that matters is the extent to which it maintains, or rebalances, our constitutional order.

About the Author


Ilya Shapiro is the director of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute. Before joining Cato, he was a special assistant/adviser to the Multi-National Force in Iraq on rule-of-law issues and practiced at Patton Boggs and Cleary Gottlieb. Shapiro is the co-author of Religious Liberties for Corporations? Hobby Lobby, the Affordable Care Act, and the Constitution (2014), and editor of 11 volumes of the Cato Supreme Court Review (2008-18). He has contributed to a variety of academic, popular, and professional publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, National Review, and New York Times Online. He also regularly provides commentary for various media outlets, including CNN, Fox News, ABC, CBS, NBC, Univision and Telemundo, the Colbert Report, PBS NewsHour, and NPR. Shapiro has testified before Congress and state legislatures and has filed more than 300 amicus curiae “friend of the court” briefs in the Supreme Court. He lectures regularly on behalf of the Federalist Society, was an inaugural Washington Fellow at the National Review Institute and a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute, and has been an adjunct professor at the George Washington University Law School. He is also the chairman of the board of advisors of the Mississippi Justice Institute, and a member of the Virginia Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In 2015, National Law Journalnamed him to its 40 under 40 list of “rising stars.” Before entering private practice, Shapiro clerked for Judge E. Grady Jolly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He holds an AB from Princeton University, an MSc from the London School of Economics, and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School (where he became a Tony Patiño Fellow). He lives in northern Virginia. 

Praise For…


"Supreme Disorder is a strikingly original work by one of the country's sharpest legal minds on our manifestly broken judicial appointment process. Ilya doesn't just diagnose the problem and prescribe solutions; he offers a refreshingly balanced history of our nation's most august institution. A must read for anyone interested in the Supreme Court."
MIKE LEE, Republican senator from Utah

"A remarkably concise, even-handed, highly accessible, well-researched, deftly written account of every Supreme Court nominee of every president from George Washington to today. An indispensable resource for understanding our constitutional history and how we got to where we are with judicial nominations. Anyone with any interest in constitutional law needs to read this book. I will be recommending it to my students.”

—RANDY E. BARNETT, professor, Georgetown University Law Center, and author of Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People

"With aging justices, the membership of the Supreme Court is certain to soon change, possibly along with its ideological balance-setting the stage for confirmation fights every bit as heated as our most recent ones. Ilya Shapiro has written the essential guide for these times, helping us understand how we got here and offering solutions for a better way. Mandatory reading now, and a comprehensive reference you will want to keep nearby to consult in real-time as the battles over the shape and future of our most prestigious institution unfold."
—JAN CRAWFORD, chief legal correspondent, CBS News, and author of Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States

"In this engaging and insightful history of the pitched battles over Supreme Court nominations since America's earliest days, Ilya Shapiro shows how the confirmation process went awry-and why only the Court itself, by checking the other branches and issuing rulings that will be perceived as legitimate, can fix it."

ADAM WINKLER, law professor, UCLA, and member of the board of directors of the American Constitution Society and the Brennan Center for Justice


Product Details
ISBN: 9781684510566
ISBN-10: 1684510562
Publisher: Gateway Editions
Publication Date: September 22nd, 2020
Pages: 256

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