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The Supermajority - How the Supreme Court Divided America

In The Supermajority: How the Supreme Court Divided America, Brennan Center President Michael Waldman examines the most consequential Supreme Court terms in decades and argues that the Court overreached. Its ruling in Bruen radically loosened gun safety laws amid an epidemic of mass shootings. West Virginia v. EPA hobbled the government’s ability to fight climate change and other environmental threats. And in Dobbs, the Court revoked the constitutional protection for abortion rights promised by Roe v. Wadeand Caseyfor nearly 50 years. In these rulings, the supermajority relied on “originalism,” a new, extreme, and deeply flawed method of interpreting the Constitution.

The book’s newly released paperback edition includes a new chapter on the explosive aftermath of the supermajority’s first term, as well as major decisions in the 2022–2023 term that delivered a blow to affirmative action and surprising wins for voting rights. Waldman also delves into the scandals of the term, like the leaked Dobbs opinion, the revelations that Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife was involved in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election, and the justices publicly turning on each other in a stark display of the Court’s deep division.

Waldman provides important background on the pipeline created to fill federal court benches with conservatives — helpful context for the latest shameful revelations of Justices Thomas and Samuel Alito’s lucrative ties to GOP megadonors and Alito’s flagrant breach of the Court’s toothless new ethics code.

Written with the knowledge and insight of an expert Court observer, Waldman lays out how the string of scandals and divisive rulings have chipped away at public trust in the institution and presents proposals for reform. The need for change grows evident with every day the Court stands in the way of justice and refuses to validate the fundamental American dictum that a president is not a king.

Waldman shows that the 2021–22 term wasn’t the first time the Supreme Court overreached and that it has provoked fierce backlash each time. The Dred Scott decision helped cause the Civil Wara reactionary Court blocked federal programs and reforms during the Progressive Era and New Deal, and the Warren Court’s liberal rulings provoked fierce opposition.

Throughout The Supermajority, Waldman grounds the Supreme Court and its history in politics and the ways that public opinion, elected officials, and the parties influence the Court. And he offers political solutions like term limits to the problems caused when nine Americans have jobs for life and too much power.

Michael Waldman is president and CEO of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, a nonpartisan law and policy institute. An expert on the Constitution and the courts, Waldman served on President Biden’s commission on the Supreme Court. He is the author of The Fight to Vote and The Second Amendment: A Biography. He was director of speechwriting during the Clinton administration. He comments widely in the media on law and policy.


How the Supreme Court Divided America

Watch LaFontaine E. Oliver, President and CEO of New York Public Radio, and Michael Waldman, President and CEO of the Brennan Center for Justice discuss the U.S. Supreme Court with host Brooke Gladstone.


Morning Joe

Watch Michael's appearance on Morning Joe, where he discussed the country and the Court's diverging paths.


Michael Waldman with the hosts of Armchair Expert podcast

Armchair Expert

Michael appeared on Armchair Expert to discuss how the Supreme Court shapes policy, the concept of originalism, and how extremism influences rulings.

“Michael Waldman delivers a terrific if chilling account of how conservatives hijacked US democracy. . . . His new book about the conservative supermajority which dominates the supreme court is written with the verve of great campaign oratory.”

The Guardian

“A damning account of a Supreme Court gone wildly activist in shredding the Constitution.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Anyone trying to grasp how just nine unelected justices with lifetime tenure could completely upend American life must read this important book.”

— Jane Mayer, Chief Washington Correspondent, The New Yorker

“[The Supreme Court] has set the country back on voting rights, reproductive rights, gun safety and racial justice, with more damage possibly to come. This compelling book tells the story of this critical moment in the long struggle for a better, more equitable country.”

— Eric Holder, Former Attorney General

“A call to action as much as it is a history of the Supreme Court, [Waldman’s] book carries a strong warning for the conservative justices who thus far have been able to carry the day.”

Financial Times