Dissent: The Radicalization of the Republican Party and Its Capture of the Court

Twelve Books. Jun. 2021. 496p. ISBN 9781538700792. $32.50. POL SCI
Investigative journalist Calmes uses archival materials and firsthand interviews to methodically present the controversy surrounding the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Calmes sets this story amid the Republican Party’s rightward movement and conservative populism, under the influences of Reagan, Gingrich, the Tea Party, and Trump. She diagnoses increasing political polarization on all sides and the dominance of politicians who are more interested in campaigning than governing. The book offers an evaluative exposition of Kavanaugh’s social and academic activities at Georgetown Prep and Yale (and his initial involvement with the Federalist Society); Robert Bork’s and Clarence Thomas’s similarly contested Supreme Court nominations; and the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh that were raised by Debbie Ramirez, Julie Swetnick, and Christine Blasey Ford. For other delineations and interpretations of these events by journalists, readers might consider Justice on Trial, by Mollie Hemingway, or Search and Destroy, by Ryan Lovelace, both published in 2019, as well as Ronan Farrow’s articles in the New Yorker.
VERDICT This exhaustively detailed book will engage general readers interested in civic duty and privacy. Contemporary journalistic treatments of the confirmation will have to suffice until historical perspective produces what scholars may consider a definitive account.
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