Leon Friedman and Fred L. Israel’s The Justices of the United States Supreme Court (rev. ed. 2005) provides short, highly readable biographical sketches of every Justice up to the mid 1990s, with a discussion of their most significant opinions. Lincoln Caplan’s The Tenth Justice: The Solicitor General and the Rule of Law (1987) provides an excellent history of the office of the Solicitor General, which represents the United States in all cases before the Court. Now a bit dated but still excellent reading, Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong’s The Brethren (1979) is an inside look at the Court during the 1970s, when the Court decided such important cases as Roe v. Wade.
Students may also want to explore The Federalist, a series of short essays written by Madison, Hamilton and Jay in support of ratification of the Constitution. The Federalist has long been considered America’s greatest contribution to political theory. For those who find reading all 85 Federalist essays too daunting, we suggest starting with essays 10 (Madison on faction), 51 (probably Madison, but possibly Hamilton, on checks and balances in the Constitution), 70 (Hamilton on the need for an energetic executive) and 78 (Hamilton on the judiciary — “the least dangerous branch” — and the power of judicial review).