Closing the Book on Antonin Scalia

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As the New York Times Book Review noted in a Sunday column, American Original is now out in paperback, and I’m moving on. I’m sure Justice Scalia will continue to give me plenty of material when the new term begins on the first Monday in October. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, my first subject, has proved newsworthy even in retirement.

But I’m mostly turning now to my next project, centered on Justice Sonia Sotomayor. This effort will not be through the lens of standard judicial biography, however, as the first two books were. Sotomayor is in only her second year on the Court, of course, and my earlier subjects had each served more than 20 years when I began my research.

Rather, I will be examining the trajectory of Sotomayor’s life (beginning in 1954) against the progress of Latinos in the law and the political currents that led to her appointment as the first Hispanic justice. I am looking at the broader landscape of minority appointments and the Hispanics who came before her who might have had a shot at making history but never got an interview with the president.

This project will take years, as the others did. When I finished the O’Connor book and moved onto Scalia, I used to joke that I was trading Palo Alto and Phoenix (her stamping ground) for places like Trenton and Queens (his). Now, alas, it’s the Bronx.

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