The late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died in September 2005 after a full, consequential and in some ways controversial life. From modest and Midwestern circumstances, he distinguished himself in school, law practice and public service. He was confirmed to the Supreme Court during turbulent times and was for many years a powerful and prescient critic of what he saw as a too-liberal court's innovations and excesses.
Rehnquist believed that the Supreme Court is charged with a crucial but limited task and that a justice's job isn't to design public policy but to preserve the Constitution's careful system of checks and balances. He succeeded in moving the court's doctrines in a number of important areas, and—as the drama surrounding the decision last summer in the Obamacare case illustrated—he changed the conversation about our nation's public law, reminding lawyers and citizens alike of the first principles that inspired the American founding.
Such a figure's life and work deserve a careful, close biographical study. John Jenkins's "The Partisan" isn't such a book. It is a tediously partisan, relentlessly tendentious and superficial expansion of a similarly flawed New York Times Magazine profile published more than 25 years ago.
I don't think Rick liked it.