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During the Kavanaugh hearings, pundits and journalists mused whether the circus around his nomination hearings might be leading to a crisis of legitimacy on the Supreme Court. Notably, these musings mostly came from the left and those who opposed Kavanaugh ideologically. Their very utterance was an instance of further politicizing and de-legitimizing of the judicial branch. The Supreme Court was intended by the founders to remain "above the fray." But the political tit-for-tat around increasingly divisive confirmation hearings is just the tip of the iceberg of a legitimacy crisis that has been brewing for much longer. David Kaplan's new book, The Most Dangerous Branch, is a deep dive into the history and personalities that have turned the Supreme Court into the hyper-politicized and self-aggrandizing institution it is today. He takes readers into the heart of the "Marble Palace," where the nine black-robed justices have sat enthroned since 1935, deciding some of the most controversial issues in American life. How did we get to a place where nine individuals hold so much power - where Supreme Court Justices are viewed as demigods? Against the narrative of "Supreme Court as Jedi High Council" comes Kaplan's revealing and occasionally unflattering portrait of the Trump Court. The Supreme Court is not and ought not be our only hope, he says. The book provides a fascinating glimpse into the personalities and egos of judges - both those who have ultimately been confirmed and those whose enthusiasm and jockeying for a nomination ended up disqualifying them. It's a sobering reminder that the justices on the Supreme Court are not deities, but merely lawyers - and humans at that.

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