"This is a wonderful, engaging account of an unusual year in Supreme Court history. Kimberly Robinson does a masterful job of explaining the Court's decisions and puts them in a broader context of what they mean for the law and for the country. Those who watch the Court closely and those who watch it only casually will benefit from reading Robinson's account of October Term 2016."—Erwin Chemerinsky, University of California, Berkeley School of LawWith the death of associate justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court was plunged into crisis. Refusing to hold hearings or confirm the nominee of a Democratic president almost a year away from a presidential election, the Republican-controlled Senate held the court hostage, forcing it to do its work through nearly the entire term ending in June 2017 with just eight justices. In American Justice 2017: The Supreme Court in Crisis, Kimberly Robinson examines the way individual justices and the institution as a whole reacted to this unprecedented, politically fraught situation.
"Robinson's account of this unusual term is thorough, fair-minded, and fascinating. With an eye to surprising details and historical ironies, she astutely explains the ad hoc compromises and unexpected dodges that the short-staffed court used to avoid gridlock and indecision. The result is a compelling and entertaining portrait of the justices navigating a slow-burning crisis, then adjusting to the controversial appointment of a new colleague. Robinson's fusion of sophisticated legal analysis and fine-grained reporting will delight veteran court-watchers and casual observers alike."—Mark Joseph Stern, legal analyst and Supreme Court correspondent, Slate
"Kimberly Robinson is an indispensable chronicler of today's Supreme Court, and this book is a thoughtful account of one of the most memorable stretches in the Court's recent history—if not in the cases decided, in the transformation it featured in the political dynamics of vacancy, nomination, and confirmation. Robinson draws out the impact of those dynamics on the Court—both the cases decided during an important period of transition, and the institution more broadly."—Kate Shaw, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
"Kimberly Robinson is one of the best journalists covering the Supreme Court, and her American Justice 2017 is a riveting, revealing account of the most difficult and unusual term in years. With the reporter's eye for detail and balance, Robinson shows how the Court, shorthanded after the loss of influential Justice Antonin Scalia and caught in a political firestorm over his replacement, fought to preserve the integrity of the institution while finessing divisive and controversial cases on religion, free speech, and the right to vote."—Adam Winkler, UCLA School of Law
In public, the justices put on brave faces, waiting for the confirmation battle to play itself out, while indicating in occasional statements that the court would muddle through just fine. In private, though, things appear to have been more complicated. Narrow decisions, lackluster choice of cases, and odd bedfellows teaming up on the same sides of opinions and dissents give us a hint of the strenuous effort the eight justices made to uphold the integrity of the institution in the face of hurricane-force partisan gales.
Kimberly Robinson is a legal editor for U.S. Law Week and the publication's lead reporter at the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to joining Bloomberg BNA, Robinson practiced with the law firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP, where she specialized in privacy and consumer-protection issues.