Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion by Seth Stern & Stephen Wermiel

University Press of Kansas
(February 27, 2013)
Paperback: 688 pages



"Scrupulously honest and consistently fair-minded, 'Justice Brennan' is a supremely impressive work that will long be prized as perhaps the best judicial biography ever written."
—David Garrow, Washington Post, Read full article here

 "Justice Brennan' provides the most comprehensive and well-organized look at the legendary liberal jurist to date. Stern and Wermiel dig below the popular cliché of Bill Brennan as the Constitution’s Gene Kelly — all twinkling eyes and glad-to-see-ya Irish charm — to reveal the complicated (and quite conservative) man beneath."

—Dahlia Lithwick, New York Times, Read full article here

"Stern and Wermiel explore Brennan’s record fully and effectively."
—Anthony Lewis, New York Review of Books, Read full article here

"Those who want to understand the glory and the contradictions of a true progressive jurist should buy the first full-length biography, Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion, by Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel."
—Garrett Epps, The Atlantic Online, Read full article here

"The authors proportion it nicely, interweaving biographical information, case histories (but not a numbing litany of them) and details of Brennan's tactical moves into an enjoyable narrative. The book is a major contribution to the history of the Supreme Court."
—Michael O'Donnell, The Nation, Read full article here

"Incisive and absorbing biography"

—Justin Driver, The New Republic, Read full article here

"Stern and Wermiel provide a richly detailed portrait of the improbable transformation of a judge from New Jersey, plucked from relative obscurity by President Eisenhower, a Republican, into one of the most influential liberal justices in the twentieth century; an anatomy of the inner workings of the Supreme Court; and a provocative analysis of the impact of 'judicial activism.'"

—Glenn Altschuler, Huffington Post, Read full article here

"Brennan made a huge mark on our Constitution – and Stern and Wermiel illuminate his legacy remarkably well."

—Chuck Leddy, Christian Science Monitor, Read full article here

"The definitive [Brennan] biography...a detailed and fascinating account... Both legal scholars and general readers will be delighted with this well-written, superbly documented biography."

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"This sweeping biography of one of the most influential justices ever to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States invites the reader to witness the details of William J. Brennan Jr.’s personal life, the darker moments, as well as those that shine. It seats the reader in Brennan’s chambers to listen to his conversations and see the memoranda exchanged with other justices and his law clerks ... In sum, the biography is an intimate account of Brennan’s life, especially his 34 years on the Court."

—Stewart Pollock, Newark Star Ledger, Read full article here

"Accounts of Brennan’s role in the still-standing abortion ruling of Roe vs. Wade as well as consequential decisions in almost every other realm of human endeavor read like mini-dramas with a cast of nine characters plus many supporting actors."

—Steve Weinberg, Dallas Morning News, Read full article here

"Certainly now, and doubtless destined to remain the authoritative 'life' of Brennan the man and the Justice, luminously, perceptively, and candidly presented."

—Frank Michelman, Texas Law Review, Read full article here

"A valuable contribution to American legal history and our understanding of the hidden workings of the U.S. Supreme Court."

—Edward Carter, Deseret News, Read full article here

"The book offers an intelligent and interesting account both of Brennan’s decades on the Court and of the broader developments in American life that intertwined with the Court’s work."

—Ed Whelan, National Review Online, Read full article here


"The authors of this splendid, accessible and fair-minded book give us a life of a man who had a profound influence on American society."

—Charles Stephen, Lincoln Journal Star, Read full article here

"This reader-friendly biography, which is as engaging as the man it portrays, is a lesson in what it takes to produce decisions by nine justices of diverse political and jurisprudential hues."

—Jon Eisenberg, California Lawyer, Read full article here

"A comprehensive, compelling life story of the man who arguably ranks as the most important member of the Court to serve in the latter half of the 20th century."

—Leonard H. Becker, Washington Lawyer, Read full article here

"A volume clearly in the top tier of American judicial biography."

—Bennett Boskey, The Green Bag, Read full article here

"The book takes care to place decisions and opinions in the context of Brennan's personal history, judicial philosophy and larger societal factors. It's deliciously gossipy when discussing how certain justices voted and what their opinions were of each other, but that information's also vital when understanding how the court operated."

—Dan Herman, Pacific Northwest Inlander, Read full article here