I just finished reading Jeffrey Rosen's The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries that Defined America -- in just a couple of days (though the fact that it's spring break helped). It's a fast and fun read.
Although Rosen is a law prof at George Washington University, this is more of a biography than an legal academic book. Rosen looks at four pairs of men -- 7 Supreme Court justices and 1 President -- who collectively present evidence for Rosen's thesis, which is that moderate pragmatists end up having more long term influence than ideologically pure warriors.
The pairs he examines are:
1) John Marshall (M/P) and Thomas Jefferson (IPW)
2) John Marshall Harlan (M/P) and Oliver Wendell Holmes (IPW)
3) Hugo Black (M/P) and
Melvin William Douglas (IPW)
4) William Rehnquist (M/P) and Antonin Scalia (IPW)
Of these, the only ideologically pure warrior to have influenced constitutional law in the long run, according to Rosen, is Holmes, and only because he moderated his judicial philosophy in the 1920s.
As I said, this is a fun book to read. Rosen does a good job of bringing the figures to life, with a journalist's eye for telling details, such as the skepticism with which the other justices viewed Douglas's first draft of Griswold. It seems that at the same time that Douglas was waxing about the importance and sanctity of marriage, he was in the process of divorcing his third wife so that he could marry his fourth wife, a twentysomething student.
Interestingly, Rosen paints a pretty sympathetic and flattering picture of Rehnquist. True, he does note that the Chief Justice "probably lied" at his confirmation hearing when he testified that a memo he wrote as a law clerk to Justice Jackson -- urging adherence to the separate but equal doctrine in Plessy v. Ferguson -- was meant to express the justice's views, not his own. But overall, Rosen notes how Rehnquist was relatively moderate, especially compared to Scalia, and that Rehnquist's influence has correspondingly been greater.