Several justices–Roberts, Breyer, Kagan, Kavanaugh, and Gorsuch–have not yet authored true memoirs, though Breyer and Gorsuch have authored legal books. We are so fresh into the Kavanaugh tenure that few books have been written about him at all–and none that don’t focus on his confirmation hearing. While it is often interesting to read a true memoir, you can often learn a lot about a justice by reading the books others write about them to varying degrees of political intrigue. As much as we want to pretend the court is apolitical, writers writing about the court are not. Always keep that in mind. Some justices have been covered extensively–I’m looking at you RBG–and some are just getting started, and some barely have any published books about them, but these books are great jumping off points to introduce you to the justices. 

John Roberts: The Chief: The Life and Turbulent Times of Chief Justice John Roberts

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.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Notorious RBG, inspired by the Tumblr that amused the Justice herself and brought to you by its founder and an award-winning feminist journalist, is more than just a love letter. It draws on intimate access to Ginsburg’s family members, close friends, colleagues, and clerks, as well an interview with the Justice herself. An original hybrid of reported narrative, annotated dissents, rare archival photos and documents, and illustrations, the book tells a never-before-told story of an unusual and transformative woman who transcends generational divides. As the country struggles with the unfinished business of gender equality and civil rights, Ginsburg stands as a testament to how far we can come with a little chutzpah.

Clarence Thomas: My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir

Provocative, inspiring, and unflinchingly honest, My Grandfather’s Son is the story of one of America’s most remarkable and controversial leaders, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, told in his own words. Thomas speaks out, revealing the pieces of his life he holds dear, detailing the suffering and injustices he has overcome, including the acrimonious and polarizing Senate hearing involving a former aide, Anita Hill, and the depression and despair it created in his own life and the lives of those closest to him. In this candid and deeply moving memoir, a quintessential American tale of hardship and grit, Clarence Thomas recounts his astonishing journey for the first time.

Stephen Breyer: Make Our Democracy Work

Charged with the responsibility of interpreting the Constitution, the Supreme Court has the awesome power to strike down laws enacted by our elected representatives. Why does the public accept the Court’s decisions as legitimate and follow them, even when those decisions are highly unpopular? What must the Court do to maintain the public’s faith? How can it help make our democracy work? In this groundbreaking book, Justice Stephen Breyer tackles these questions and more, offering an original approach to interpreting the Constitution that judges, lawyers, and scholars will look to for many years to come.

Samuel Alito: The Roberts Court: The Struggle for the Constitution

Marcia Coyle’s brilliant inside analysis of the High Court captures four landmark decisions—concerning health care, money in elections, guns at home, and race in schools. Coyle examines how those cases began and how they exposed the great divides among the justices, such as the originalists versus the pragmatists on guns and the Second Amendment, and corporate speech versus human speech in the controversial Citizens United case. Most dramatically, her reporting shows how dedicated conservative lawyers and groups have strategized to find cases and crafted them to bring up the judicial road to the Supreme Court with an eye on a receptive conservative majority.

Sonia Sotomayor: My Beloved World

Here is the story of a precarious childhood, with an alcoholic father (who would die when she was nine) and a devoted but overburdened mother, and of the refuge a little girl took from the turmoil at home with her passionately spirited paternal grandmother. But it was when she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes that the precocious Sonia recognized she must ultimately depend on herself.  She would learn to give herself the insulin shots she needed to survive and soon imagined a path to a different life. With only television characters for her professional role models, and little understanding of what was involved, she determined to become a lawyer, a dream that would sustain her on an unlikely course, from valedictorian of her high school class to the highest honors at Princeton, Yale Law School, the New York County District Attorney’s office, private practice, and appointment to the Federal District Court before the age of forty. Along the way we see how she was shaped by her invaluable mentors, a failed marriage, and the modern version of extended family she has created from cherished friends and their children. Through her still-astonished eyes, America’s infinite possibilities are envisioned anew in this warm and honest book.

Elena Kagan: Elana Kagan: A Biography

This full-length biography sheds light on Elena Kagan’s life, covering her college years at Princeton and her experience in law school as well as her legal career, which eventually led her to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Appropriate for high school, college, and adult readers, the book not only documents Justice Kagan’s life, achievements, and the possibilities for the future, but also how Kagan is an inspiring role model who demonstrated independence, determination, and high achievement throughout her career.

Neil Gorsuch: Gorsuch: The Judge Who Speaks For Himself

When forty-nine-year-old Neil Gorsuch was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump, he was told by a senator, “We need to know what’s in your heart.” Now, acclaimed author John Greenya seeks to answer that question with this captivating book. Born in Colorado, Gorsuch remains somewhat of a mystery to Democrats and Republicans alike. Based on intense research and interviews with people who have known Gorsuch in all periods of his life, both his opponents and his friends—from his early work as a lawyer and his year as a Justice Department official, to his ten-and-a-half years on the Federal bench, this is the best way to learn more about the conservative replacement to Justice Antonin Scalia.

Brett Kavanaugh: Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court 

The Trump presidency opened with the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to succeed the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. But the following year, when Trump drew from the same list of candidates for his nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, the justice being replaced was the swing vote on abortion, and all hell broke loose. The judicial confirmation process, on the point of breakdown for thirty years, now proved utterly dysfunctional. Unverified accusations of sexual assault became weapons in a ruthless campaign of personal destruction, culminating in the melodramatic hearings in which Kavanaugh’s impassioned defense resuscitated a nomination that seemed beyond saving. 

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Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member