Supreme Myths
Why the Supreme Court Is Not a Court and Its Justices Are Not Judges
by Eric J. Segall
February 2012, 219pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-39687-8
$65, £50, 57€, A90
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eBook Available: 978-0-313-39688-5
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The Supreme Court is tasked with resolving the most important, difficult, and controversial issues, such as abortion, affirmative action, gun control, and federal control of the economy. Yet the Supreme Court does not act like a court of law, and its Justices do not decide cases like judges.

This book explores some of the most glaring misunderstandings about the U.S. Supreme Court—and makes a strong case for why our Supreme Court Justices should not be entrusted with decisions that affect every American citizen.

Supreme Myths: Why the Supreme Court is Not a Court and its Justices are Not Judges presents a detailed discussion of the Court’s most important and controversial constitutional cases that demonstrates why it doesn’t justify being labeled “a court of law.”

Eric Segall, professor of law at Georgia State University College of Law for two decades, explains why this third branch of the national government is an institution that makes important judgments about fundamental questions based on the Justices’ ideological preferences, not the law. A complete understanding of the true nature of the Court’s decision-making process is necessary, he argues, before an intelligent debate over who should serve on the Court—and how they should resolve cases—can be held. Addressing front-page areas of constitutional law such as health care, abortion, affirmative action, gun control, and freedom of religion, this book offers a frank description of how the Supreme Court truly operates, a critique of life tenure of its Justices, and a set of proposals aimed at making the Court function more transparently to further the goals of our representative democracy.

Eric J. Segall is professor of law at Georgia State University College of Law in Atlanta, where he has been faculty since 1991. He graduated from Emory University, Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude, and from Vanderbilt Law School where he was research editor for the law review and member of Order of the Coif. He has worked for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and the United States Department of Justice. His published work includes over 20 law review articles on constitutional law. Segall's work has appeared in journals such as UCLA Law Review, Washington University Law Review, The George Washington Law Review, and Northwestern University Law Review. He is a regular guest on the radio show Stand Up! With Pete Dominick where he discusses the Supreme Court's constitutional cases and other legal matters.


"This book is well-written, and tells background stories about several cases that may be of interest to students and some professors. . . . Supreme Myths may be a good book for undergraduates studying American government, judicial process, or constitutional law. Summing Up: Recommended."—Choice, September 1, 2012

"Supreme Myths is a tough-minded examination of the Supreme Court's record in deciding constitutional cases. Segall argues that the Court falsely claims to be relying on traditional legal authority like text and precedent. Clearly written and uncompromising." —Robert F. Nagel, Rothgerber Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Colorado Law School. Author of Unrestrained: Judicial Excess and the Mind of the American Lawyer (Transaction, 2008)

"With clear examples drawn from the Supreme Court's checkered history of judicial review, Eric Segall exposes the myth that Justices are acting likely ordinary lawyers when they interpret the Constitution. In vigorous and easily understood language, Segall shows that they aren't—liberal or conservative, they are politicians in robes. His readers will gain important insights into the realities of our constitutional system, and may be provoked to think about whether we ought to do something about it."—Mark Tushnet is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

"Professor Segall's accessible, provocative, and biting critique of the Supreme Court raises important questions about how the Court's constitutional decisions affect the American people. His unique and bold voice on the Supreme Court has been an immeasurable asset to the national conversation I host everyday."—Pete Dominick, Host of Stand Up with Pete Dominick on SIRIUSXM's POTUS Channel

"Professor Segall has produced a powerful argument against the popular myth that Supreme Court Justices are neutral judges performing mechanical judicial work. Tracing constitutional doctrine from civil rights to guns to abortion and economic regulation, he urges readers to piece the legal arguments for the value-laden choices beneath. Concluding with proposals for curbing judicial veto power, and suggestions for a more clear-eyed view of the Supreme Court, this is an invaluable addition to the conversation about the Supreme Court and the mythmaking in which we all to often indulge." —Dahlia Lithwick Senior Editor
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