Supreme Court

  • Did Lewis Powell Sign a Slow Death Warrant for Affirmative Action?

    The Times court reporter Emily Bazelon dives into the decision by Justice Powell to decide the 1978 Bakke case through reference to "diversity" instead of racial justice, a rationale that stripped away much of the unjust history of higher education. 

  • We Don't Need to Pretend Clarence Thomas Can Read the Founders' Minds

    by Heidi Li Feldman and Dahlia Lithwick

    The approach to "original intent" laid out in recent gun control rulings imagines the founders as capable only of the most cramped and limited understanding of the function of law in a society, argue a legal scholar and veteran court reporter. 

  • Originalism Will Kill Women

    by Madiba K. Dennie

    "Originalist ideology glorifies an era of blatant oppression along racial, gender, and class lines, transforming that era’s lowest shortcomings into our highest standards."

  • The Latest SCOTUS Case to Privilege Religion Over Civil Society

    by Linda Greenhouse

    Historically, the Supreme Court has viewed workplace accommodations for religious workers in terms of protecting minority faiths and relieving undue burdens on employers and coworkers. A pending case brought by a Christian postal worker promises to upend that balance. 

  • Hamline Controversy Shows How Religion and Neoliberal Administration Converge to Reject Expertise

    by Alexander Jabbari

    An instructive contrast can be drawn from a 1997 controversy over a frieze depicting Muhammad on the wall of the United States Supreme Court. Since then, post-9/11 Islamophobia, a culture of deliberate trolling under the banner of free speech, and the rise of corporate-style university management have drained the capacity for nuance.

  • After Bruen: One Nation, Under Guns

    by Ryan Busse

    "As bad as America’s gun-violence problem is, it could be about to get much worse," says former gun industry insider turned whistleblower. The selective reading of the historical record advanced by Justice Thomas's opinion would force judges to play historian to decide cases, destabilizing gun law in many ways. 

  • The Blindness of the Supreme Court's "Colorblindness"

    by Drew Gilpin Faust

    "Affirmative action opened a door I would walk through.... My professors, soon to be my colleagues, could imagine me among them because the very notion of women faculty had been given a legitimacy and a thinkability."

  • SCOTUS Seems Poised to Overrule Democracy By Drawing on a Historical Forgery

    In 1818, Charles Pinckney of South Carolina sent John Quincy Adams a fake document that made it look like Pinckney was a principal author of the 1787 Constitution. At the time, the ruse was rejected. Why are Supreme Court conservatives looking to this document in to justify their decisions?  

  • The Conservative Movement Has Captured SCOTUS. Now What?

    by Linda Greenhouse

    As the institution with the power to advance conservative goals without popular support, it was inevitable that the right would focus on packing the judiciary, explains veteran court reporter Linda Greenhouse. 

  • Haaland v. Brackeen: The Case that Could Break Native Sovereignty

    by Rebecca Nagle

    "The U.S. has been passing laws that treat tribes and tribal citizens differently from non-Native citizens since the founding of the republic. If that is unconstitutional, the entire legal structure defending the legal rights of Indigenous nations could crumble."

  • OAH, AHA File Joint SCOTUS Brief in Case Affecting Indigenous Adoption and Family Rights

    "If the court strikes down the ICWA in whole or in part, the decision could have devastating impacts on Native American families and, potentially, on federal Indian law writ large. Resuming the practice of Native child removal would cause active harm to Native families as well as jeopardize the future sovereignty of tribal governments.

  • Inside the Affirmative Action Cases Before SCOTUS

    Edward Blum is a longtime conservative legal activist who is leading lawsuits claiming that affirmative action in admissions violates the requirement that the constituiton be color-blind; whether there is any such principle is debatable. Includes insights from historians Hugh Davis Graham and Eddie R. Cole. 

  • SCOTUS Affirmative Action Cases Hinge on History of Brown and the 14th Amendment

    by Linda Greenhouse

    Neither Brown nor the 14th Amendment were driven by a belief in a "colorblind" Constitution; instead, they were rooted in the historically specific context of racial oppression. The plaintiffs in two cases before the court want to obscure that history, says veteran court reporter Linda Greenhouse.