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Becoming Justice Blackmun: Harry Blackmun's Supreme Court Journey

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Linda Greenhouse

Starred Review. Supreme Court justice Harry Blackmun's lifelong connection with Chief Justice Warren Burger—beginning in kindergarten in St. Paul, Minn., and culminating in 16 years together on the Supreme Court—supplies Greenhouse with one … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Linda Greenhouse
Publisher: Times Books
1 review about Becoming Justice Blackmun: Harry Blackmun's...

A superb biography from an unlikely source

  • Jul 12, 2005
Like millions of others, I have learned to distrust The New York Times and its so-called journalists. The Times never deserved the reputation it once had and is now nothing more than a megaphone for pseudo-intellectuals who think nothing of lying through their teeth at every turn.

Thus it is a pleasant surprise to find that Linda Greenhouse who has covered the Supreme Court for the Times since 1978 has written a simply marvelous of Justice Harry Blackmun.

She gives full credit to the voluminous archives maintained by Blackmun from his youth through his dying day.

Blackmun is widely known as the author of the highly contentious Roe v. Wade opinion. Although Greenhouse tends to lionize Blackmun for this and other feminist favored decisions, her propagandizing does not obscure the truth: Harry Blackmun was a man who never forgot about the "little people."

Greenhouse ultimately applies the label "liberal" to Blackmun, but this too is misleading. Blackmun was a jurist who took his responsibilities to protect and enforce the Constitution of the United States seriously. His decisions, as recounted by Greenhouose, tended toward insuring that the ordinary citizen was accorded all the blessings the Constitution was intended to bestow. To label that tendency as "liberal" is crass politizing that Greenhouse could have - and should have - avoided.

Fortunately Blackmun's archives are allowed to speak. The notes, memoranda, opinions Blackmun authored bear strong witness to Blackmun's unwavering belief in the Constitution, the Bill Of Rights and the rights of the common person.

Even those who detest Roe v. Wade would benefit from reading this generally outstanding biography. While it will not change the mind of a zealot of any persuasion,it is certainly illuminating as to how the Supreme Court works, the personalities on the Court during Blackmun's 24 years of service and, finally, provide insight into the thinking of a man who must be considered a hero of his time --- and perhaps far into the future.

Quite a good read.


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