Category Archives: History of the Court

This Day in Supreme Court History—March 1, 2005

On this day in 2005, the Supreme Court decided Roper v. Simmons, one of its most important rulings on the issue of capital punishment. In Roper, the Court held that Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishments” forbids imposing the death penalty for a crime committed by someone under the age of 18. In … Continue reading This Day in Supreme Court History—March 1, 2005

This Day in Supreme Court History—February 20, 2002

On this Day in 2002, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, one of the most significant Establishment Clause cases in recent years. The Court considered whether a state program that provides school vouchers to parents that can be used to pay for education at religious schools violates the First Amendment’s prohibition … Continue reading This Day in Supreme Court History—February 20, 2002

This Day in Supreme Court History—February 1, 1790

On February 1, 1790, U.S. Supreme Court sat for the first time. They met on the second floor of the Merchants Exchange Building in New York City, the nation’s capital at the time. In addition to Chief Justice John Jay, associate justices William Cushing of Massachusetts and James Wilson of Pennsylvania were present. Missing from … Continue reading This Day in Supreme Court History—February 1, 1790

This Day in Supreme Court History—November 3, 1884

On this day in 1884 the Supreme Court held in John Elk v. Charles Wilkins that a Native American born in the United States could be denied the right to vote. In 1880, John Elk, a Winnebago Indian, tried to register to vote in Omaha, Nebraska. Charles Wilkins, the local registrar of voters, denied his … Continue reading This Day in Supreme Court History—November 3, 1884

This Day in Supreme Court History: October 5, 1953

On this day in 1953, Earl Warren was sworn in as the 14th Chief Justice of the United States. Warren replaced Chief Justice Fred Vinson, who had died of a heart attack on September 8, 1953. When President Dwight Eisenhower nominated the Republican governor of California to become the next Chief Justice, he praised Warren … Continue reading This Day in Supreme Court History: October 5, 1953

Introducing “Body Politic”

ISCOTUS and Oyez are thrilled to announce the launch of Body Politic, an interactive exploration of the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence from Roe v. Wade through today. Designed to balance both accessibility and depth, Body Politic offers a terrific introduction for students or anyone else just looking for the basic issues, but also offers enough detail … Continue reading Introducing “Body Politic”

Justice Scalia and the Transformation of First Amendment Jurisprudence

Post by Steven Heyman, Professor of Law at IIT Chicago-Kent School of Law.  Antonin Scalia served on the federal bench for over three decades, first on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (1982-86) and then on the U.S. Supreme Court (1986-2016).  This period coincided with a remarkable shift in our … Continue reading Justice Scalia and the Transformation of First Amendment Jurisprudence

“Get Over It”: Justice Scalia and Bush v. Gore, Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges

This post originally appeared on Nahmod Law by Sheldon Nahmod, Distinguished Professor of Law at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. Follow him on twitter @NahmodLaw. It is one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in history. No, I’m not referring to Dred Scott v. Sanford, which held that blacks could never be U.S. citizens, thereby making the … Continue reading “Get Over It”: Justice Scalia and Bush v. Gore, Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges

What Makes a Great Supreme Court Dissent?

  What is the significance of a dissent at the Supreme Court?  According to legal historian Melvin I. Urofsky, in most cases dissents don’t matter much at all.  “Nearly all of them are forgotten today, because they had no lasting jurisprudential value, they did not convince future courts … they did not contribute to the … Continue reading What Makes a Great Supreme Court Dissent?