In the first Supreme Court history told primarily through eyewitness accounts from Court insiders, Clare Cushman provides us with a behind-the-scenes look at the people, practices, and traditions that have shaped an American institution for more than two hundred years. Each chapter covers one general thematic topic and weaves a narrative from memoirs, letters, diaries, and newspaper accounts by the Justices, their spouses and children, Court reporters, clerks, oral advocates, Court staff, journalists, and other eyewitnesses. These accounts allow readers to feel as if they are squeezed into the packed Courtroom in 1844 as silver-tongued orator Daniel Webster addresses the Court; eves-dropping on an exasperated Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in 1930, as he snaps at a clerk's critique of his draft opinion, or sharing a taxi with future Chief Justice John G. Roberts in 2005 as he rushes home from the airport in anticipation of a phone call from President Bush offering him a seat on the Supreme Court. This entertaining and enlightening tour of the Supreme Court’s colorful personalities and inner workings will be of interest to all readers of American political and legal history.
Opening this book is like peering into a fascinating scrapbook complied over the centuries by Supreme Court Justices and those who knew them, It is a treat for anyone who cares about the Supreme Court and who wonders how it got to be the way it is today. I enjoyed it very much.
-Linda Greenhouse "Pulitzer-prize-winning former Supreme Court reporter for The New York Times"
"Cushman's familiarity with the apposite literature is as remarkable as it is sophisticated, resulting in a fascinating, eminently readable work that will appeal to cognoscente as well as the general public. Courtwatchers represents a major contribution and merits profound attention.
-Henry J. Abrams, author Justices, Presidents, and Senators; James Hart Professor of Politics, Emeritus, University of Virginia