Carneal said the initial press run for "Men in Black" was 80,000 -- a large number for a nonfiction book -- and that Eagle has ordered 85,000 more copies in response to the demand. Company officials estimate that half of all the books printed so far have sold. The list price is $27.95 per hardback copy.
"Men in Black" offers a conversational but uncompromising version of a familiar conservative legal critique: that "judicial activists" on the bench frequently toss aside black-letter law or constitutional text in favor of their own policy preferences.
Levin unfurls his argument through chapters with titles such as, "Justices in the Bedroom," concluding the book with a call for judicial term limits and a congressional veto over the court's rulings.
"It's written in plain English and not for Harvard Yard," says Levin, who received a bachelor's degree at the age of 19 from Temple University and later graduated from law school at the same institution.
Levin says that he has done 150 to 200 interviews on talk radio, the vast majority on shows hosted by conservatives. He has appeared on Fox News -- but his book has not been reviewed in such major daily newspapers as the New York Times or The Washington Post.
Mark Tushnet, a liberal law professor at Georgetown University who clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, said he has watched the rise of Levin's book with some bemusement.
Tushnet's own book, "A Court Divided: The Rehnquist Court and the Future of Constitutional Law," was aimed at "the educated general public," he said. It argues that the court is a relatively moderate institution and chides writers who "cheer or boo" the court's rulings depending on their own ideology.
"A Court Divided" came out a week before "Men in Black"; it has been reviewed, mostly favorably, in the Los Angeles Times, The Post and the New Republic. Tushnet has been interviewed on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation" -- but not on conservative radio or television. Sales of "A Court Divided" have been respectable for a nonfiction book but still nowhere near "Men in Black's" numbers.
"This book is being sold just as would be expected for a serious, critically acclaimed, nonfiction book -- that is, under 10,000 copies," said Alane Mason, Tushnet's editor at the New York-based publisher Norton.
Asked about Tushnet's book at the reception for "Men in Black," Regnery's Carneal said he had not heard of it.
Tushnet said he has not read "Men in Black" and does not know anyone who has.