Review: Five Chiefs – John Paul Stevens

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; Import edition (October 3, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031619980X
ISBN-13: 978-0316199803
Order book here:


Order E-book here:


We see a lot in the news regarding the U.S. Supreme Court. Particularly in the light of such cases as Citizens United and Roe V. Wade. In Five Chiefs we actually get a glimpse behind the scenes and at the history of the court through the five Chief Justices that Justice John Paul Stevens personally knew. The book begins with an overview of the first 12 Justices. The following chapter deals with the job of the Chief Justice. We then get into the bones of book which discusses each Chief one by one from 1946 to the present.

The reader also gets to see where John Paul Stevens himself disagreed with some of the decisions and the conflicts behind the scenes.

Some example cases:

Humphrey’s Executor: The court ruled that Congress was able to establish agencies such as the FTC that made and enforced their own rules and were not answerable to the President.

United States vs. Lopez: The court held that the gun free school zones act of 1990 (No guns in school zones) exceeded the commerce clause. Justice Thomas argued for this. Justice Stevens it appears was against it and stated that Thurgood Marshall would have een that “even if the interest in eliminating the market for possession of handguns by schoolchildren would not have justified federal legislation in 1789, it sure does today.” Essentially saying that we have to adapt the constitution to fit the times.

Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority: Say’s that federal power overseeing labor includes the power to prevent states from paying their employeees lower wages and/or discriminating against them.

Death Penalty: Said the Constitution did not allow legal systems “that permit this unique penalty to be so wantonly and so freakishly imposed.” Justice Steven states that they only allowed it because they felt that states would lower the risk of error.

If you are interested in the legal system or want a look behind some of the most famous Supreme Court decisions, then pick up this book. I think you’d find it very interesting.

Be sure and check out our giveaway here.

About the Author

John Paul Stevens served as a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit from 1970-1975. President Ford nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat December 19, 1975.

Justice Stevens retired from the Supreme Court on June 29, 2010.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Anna at Hachette Book Group for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

2 Responses to “Review: Five Chiefs – John Paul Stevens”

  1. Rhodes Review - Review Section Says:

    […] our review here. 0 people like this post. […]

  2. staroměstské náměstí Says:

    Currently it looks like BlogEngine is the top blogging platform out there right now.
    (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?