Category Archives: History of the Court

Primer on Types of Filings in the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has a break from argument and from its scheduled Conferences for the next week or two. The Court is scheduled to release orders again on October 29, and on the same day will hear arguments in Henry Schein Inc. v. Archer and White Sales Inc.and Lamps Plus Inc. v. Varela. In the … Continue reading Primer on Types of Filings in the Supreme Court

On This Day in Supreme Court History—September 26, 1986

On this day in 1986, Antonin Scalia was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. At the same ceremony, William Rehnquist was sworn in as the sixteenth Chief Justice of the United States. President Ronald Reagan used the occasion to praise the two men for their commitment to “judicial constraint.” … Continue reading On This Day in Supreme Court History—September 26, 1986

Putting SCOTUS confirmation hearings in context

Contemporary Supreme Court confirmation hearings are both exciting and disappointing. They are exciting because they provide a chance to hear directly from the nominee, who otherwise may not be well known. The interested public can learn a bit about the individual’s public personality and intelligence. On the other hand, the hearings are disappointing because the … Continue reading Putting SCOTUS confirmation hearings in context

The Rise and Fall of the No-Litmus-Test Rule

For decades, presidential candidates disclaimed the idea that they would have “litmus tests” for their nominees to the Supreme Court. Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that to demand that their judicial nominees decide particular cases particular ways would be wrong. Judicial litmus tests were bad. They were what candidates accused opponents of having. In the … Continue reading The Rise and Fall of the No-Litmus-Test Rule

The Court and the 2016 Election—Lessons From History

When it comes to the role of the Supreme Court on the presidential campaign trail, how does the 2016 election compare to past elections? For all its precedent-shattering and unpredictable qualities, the 2016 campaign basically fell into a predictable dynamic when it came to the candidates’ treatment of the Court. As I discussed in my … Continue reading The Court and the 2016 Election—Lessons From History

The Supreme Court and the 2016 Presidential Election

What role did the Supreme Court play in the 2016 election? This is the question I consider in an article that will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Chicago-Kent Law Review. The article is based on a paper I presented at a symposium organized by ISCOTUS last fall; the law review will be … Continue reading The Supreme Court and the 2016 Presidential Election

On This Day in Supreme Court History—March 17, 1954

On this day in 1954, William Brennan gave a speech that cost him a unanimous vote in the Senate when he was later nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. Brennan, then a judge on the New Jersey Supreme Court, spoke at the St. Patrick’s Day dinner of the Charitable Irish Society of Boston. He chose … Continue reading On This Day in Supreme Court History—March 17, 1954

On This Day in Supreme Court History—February 11, 1943

On this day in 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated Wiley B. Rutledge to the Supreme Court. Rutledge was President Roosevelt’s eighth and final appointee to the Court. At the time of his appointment, he had been serving on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1939. The Senate confirmed … Continue reading On This Day in Supreme Court History—February 11, 1943

On This Day in Supreme Court History—February 10, 1937

On this day in 1937, Bishop William Manning, head of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of New York, gave a rather unusual Ash Wednesday sermon. His topic: President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s proposal to expand the Supreme Court. When Roosevelt announced his controversial “court-packing” plan (as its critics dubbed it) several days earlier, he framed it as … Continue reading On This Day in Supreme Court History—February 10, 1937

On This Day in Supreme Court History—February 5, 1813

On this day in 1813, the Supreme Court decided Mima Queen v. Hepburn, an appeal of a suit of an enslaved woman who claimed her freedom. The Court rejected her appeal, holding that the hearsay evidence Mima Queen relied on to establish that her great grandmother was a free woman of color who was wrongly … Continue reading On This Day in Supreme Court History—February 5, 1813