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Honorable Mention

American Society of Journalists and Authors

Biography/History book award

Best Nonfiction Books of 2019

KAZI (Austin)

Faced with the pending resignation of Chief Justice Earl Warren, the Supreme Court’s longtime liberal champion, Lyndon Johnson named his close advisor Abe Fortas to become Warren’s successor. What Washington pundits believed would be a routine confirmation that would cement LBJ’s legacy instead ignited a fractious war between liberals and conservatives eager to seize control of the judicial body.

Battle for the Marble Palace provides a timely portrayal of the major contenders who clashed over this seminal moment in the Court’s history, and details the Machiavellian maneuvers on both sides of the aisle to secure ideologically driven justices for a coming generation.

Bobelian reveals the unprecedented machinations that were perpetrated to capture the Court, including LBJ’s removal of two justices to make room for his favorites, the Senate’s first filibuster against a Court nominee, and Strom Thurmond’s airing of pornographic movies to showcase Fortas’s moral turpitude, while Richard Nixon, in his zeal to win the presidency, stoked the fires of hatred and bigotry to transform the Court into a political weapon.

Praise & Reviews


Battle for the Marble Palace has all that one would want in a book—political intrigue, characters larger than life, and high stakes.  In a gripping and accessible fashion, it reads like a thriller....  The history is an absolute ‘must read’ for Supreme Court watchers as well as political junkies, history buffs, and mystery book readers.” — Kevin R. Johnson, Dean, University of California, Davis School of Law


“Beautifully crafted and rooted in deep research, Battle For The Marble Palace conveys the characters, context, and drama of an era whose shadow we have never escaped.  I learned something I didn’t know on almost every page.” — Allen Matusow, Former Dean of Humanities, Rice University and author of The Unraveling of America: A History of Liberalism in the 1960s


“Michael Bobelian’s superbly written and brilliantly contextualized history… bears almost inestimable importance and relevance to our own time.” — New York Journal of Books


Battle for the Marble Palace is a masterpiece.” — Sarah Elgatian, Midwest Writing Center

“Such a fascinating read.” — Michael Isikoff, Chief Investigative Correspondent, Yahoo News, formerly at NBC News and the Washington Post


“Bobelian… succeeds admirably in narrating the fierce, dramatic and sometimes tragic battle for control of the ‘Marble Palace.’”

Washington Times

“Michael Bobelian’s talents as a legal historian are matched by his storyteller’s flair.” — Mark Obbie, Former Executive Editor, American Lawyer magazine and co-founder, Syracuse University’s Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media

“A tour de force.” Jim Dingeman, Senior Editor, Pacifica Foundation

“This isn’t a story from contemporary headlines—although I suppose it could be—but one from more than fifty years ago largely forgotten by most Americans.” — David Brown, Texas Standard (NPR Austin)


Battle for the Marble Palace tells a very important story with fresh insight and perspective about a time when a sinkhole first developed at the busy intersection of politics and the judiciary.”

— Stephen Wermiel, Professor, American University Washington College of Law, former Supreme Court reporter at the Wall Street Journal, and co-author, Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion

“An excellent book.” — Davis Vanguard, host of the Everyday Injustice Podcast

“Conventional wisdom dictates that the debasement of Supreme Court confirmations dates to 1987 and Judge Robert Bork....  Michael Bobelian makes the compelling argument that the mess really began in 1968.  If you don’t like what’s become of the process, a pox belongs on both political parties.  This thoughtful book explains why.” — David A. Kaplan, former legal affairs editor at Newsweek and author of The Most Dangerous Branch: Inside the Supreme Court’s Assault on the Constitution


“It was like watching a thriller.” — Hopeton Hay (KAZI Austin)

“Michael Bobelian presents this history with compelling portraits....  This has been a forgotten story of the Court, and Bobelian tells it in a highly readable fashion.” — Lucas A. Powe Jr., Professor, University of Texas School of Law and author of The Warren Court and American Politics


“Michael Bobelian’s Battle for the Marble Palace tells the story with a journalist’s verve.” — Michael Les Benedict, Professor, Ohio State University

“If you think that the era of tumultuous Supreme Court nominations began with Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas or Brett Kavanaugh, this book resets the clock.” — Tony Mauro & Marcia Coyle, Supreme Court Reporters at American Lawyer Media


Battle for the Marble Palace is a brilliant evocation of a critical moment in the Court’s history, combining political biography, legal analysis, and insider reporting that will be sure to resonate with the next Supreme Court nomination.” — Thomas Brom, former Senior Editor, California Lawyer magazine


“Bobelian… provides a counterweight to the widely accepted version of recent Supreme Court confirmation history….”

San Francisco Chronicle


“A gripping story with larger than life figures….”

— Good Law|Bad Law Podcast


“Bobelian… convincingly demonstrates that the political battles… in connection with the Garland and Kavanaugh nominations have roots as far back as Fortas’ nomination.” New York Law Journal


“A gifted writer, Michael Bobelian offers a thoroughly researched narrative on the modern nomination process.” — John Kyle Day, Professor, University of Arkansas (Monticello) and author of The Southern Manifesto: Massive Resistance and the Fight to Preserve Segregation


“Riveting….” — Andrew Hamm, Editorial Manager at SCOTUSblog


“This is a book that will… be of interest to anyone who cares about the direction of our country….  It is a wonderful book.”

— Words Matter Podcast


“What better book to talk about right now as we look at our politicized Supreme Court….  It’s a great book.” — LawBusiness Insider Podcast


“Great for anyone seeking more substance from their summer reading.” New York Post

“Bobelian has done yeoman’s work... to reveal... the transformation of judicial appointments into vicious political contests.” — Ian Drake, Professor of Political Science and Jurisprudence, Montclair State University

“Johnson's failed nomination... of Abe Fortas... sheds even more light on the origins of the current institutional (mal)practice.” New Criterion Critic's Pick

“A little slice of American history... that... was very revealing....” — 5-4 Podcast

“... splendid research and clear writing make this book an easy read.” — American Society of Journalists and Authors

“A very interesting book….  The stuff… from fifty years ago is shockingly similar to what we’ve seen over the past couple of years.” — Can’t Make This up History Podcast

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