Judging Mr. Right

How Bush's brilliant yet modest conservative nominee for the Supreme Court pre-empted the expected battle. An inside look at the ascent of a judge who walked a careful path to the top

It's good thing that John Roberts has been universally described as decent, funny, civil and fair, since he may be joining a court with a long history of pugilists, ideologues and misanthropes who have somehow made it past the U.S. Senate. Justice James Clark McReynolds, who served until 1941, was, in the words of historian David Garrow, a "drooling anti-Semite" who refused to speak with fellow Justices Louis Brandeis and Benjamin Cardozo or have his picture taken with them. Chief Justice Fred Moore Vinson was a glorified drinking buddy of President Harry Truman's whose sudden death was hailed by fellow Justice...

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