Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book Review: Making Our Democracy Work by Stephen Breyer

As a member of several groups whose civil rights live and die by the Supreme Court, I often find myself paying more attention to it than the average person, so it makes sense that I snagged Making Our Democracy Work when I saw it on the new books shelf at the library. While Breyer isn't my favorite Justice (that honor goes to Justice Ginsburg*), I've nevertheless been a fan of a number of his decisions and rulings, and thought that his book would be an interesting read.

For the most part, it was, though I personally didn't find it particularly enlightening. That's not because Breyer is a bad writer or Making Our Democracy Work was uninformative; it was simply because I had already covered the material before in my high school and university coursework. I imagine, though, that it would be very compelling to someone who was unfamiliar with the evolution of the Supreme Court and the different judicial philosophies of its Justices who also wanted to learn a bit about its history and the specifics of some modern decisions. As such, I'd recommend it to anyone who didn't study American public policy, political science, history, or law who has an interest in the subject. Breyer writes very clearly, using language that most can comprehend (though his prose is often a bit on the dry side, but I guess that's to be expected). Breyer does an excellent job discussing the evolving role of the Court in American political life as well as detailing the reasoning behind the decisions he's been a part of.

Overall, I give it 4 out of 5 stars, even though I didn't have much use for it.

*I am sure you're all very surprised to learn that.


  1. I actually got to see Justice Ginsburg speak when I was in law school. She was at another law school in the state and me and a friend drove up to see her give her speech.

  2. Hmm this book might be really interesting and informative for me, thanks for the review!