BENJAMIN H. BARTON is the author of four groundbreaking books: Fixing Law School, Rebooting Justice, Glass Half Full: The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession, and The Lawyer-Judge Bias in the American Courts. He is a Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee where he represented the indigent for 12 years as a clinical law professor, and now teaches torts, contracts, and the A2J Lab. His scholarship has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, The ABA Journal, and TIME magazine. He has won the student-selected outstanding teacher award, the outstanding pro bono faculty advisor award, and spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar teaching Comparative Law at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia.
The current Supreme Court is packed with a very specific type of person: type-A overachievers who have triumphed in a long tournament measuring academic and technical legal excellence. This Court desperately lacks individuals who reflect a different type of “merit.” The book examines the exceptional and varied lives of past greats from John Marshall to Thurgood Marshall and asks how many, if any, of these giants would be nominated today. The book argues against our current bookish and narrow version of meritocracy. Healthier societies offer multiple different routes to success and onto bodies like our Supreme Court.
America is a nation founded on justice and the rule of law. But our laws are too complex, and legal advice too expensive, for poor and even middle-class Americans to get help and vindicate their rights.