Category Archives: History of the Court

Julian Bond’s Day at the Supreme Court

Julian Bond, the legendary civil rights activist who died on Sunday at age 75, had his day at the Supreme Court on November 11, 1966. The previous year he had easily won his race for a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, but his new colleagues refused to seat him. Bond, a self-described pacifist, … Continue reading Julian Bond’s Day at the Supreme Court

The Conservative Justices, the Constitution, and the First Amendment

This post is based on The Conservative-Libertarian Turn in First Amendment Jurisprudence, 117 W. Va. L. Rev. 231 (2014), which Professor Heyman recently presented as the Third Annual C. Edwin Baker Lecture for Liberty, Equality, and Democracy at West Virginia University College of Law. In recent years, a conservative majority of the Supreme Court has issued … Continue reading The Conservative Justices, the Constitution, and the First Amendment

Tark the Shark at the Supreme Court

Jerry Tarkanian, the controversial and colorful college basketball coach, died on Wednesday. Basketball fans remember Tark the Shark for his four Final Four appearances (including one national championship) and for his distinctive appearance and habits. (The New York Times’ obituary described him as “a baldheaded, sunken-eyed presence on the bench known for nervously chewing on towels … Continue reading Tark the Shark at the Supreme Court

Defying the Federal Courts

“Courts are just people. They’re just men and women dressed in black robes who have no power to re-declare, or declare, the social foundation of this nation as being unconstitutional.” These were the words of Roy S. Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Moore is a man with a proud history of defying … Continue reading Defying the Federal Courts

The Sit-Ins, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution

On Wednesday, a South Carolina court made national news when it vacated the civil rights-era convictions of a group of lunch counter sit-in protesters. The convictions stemmed from a protest in Rock Hill, South Carolina, on January 31, 1961. A group of African American students from Friendship College took seats at a local five-and-dime lunch … Continue reading The Sit-Ins, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution

Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Law

[Reposted from the IIT Chicago-Kent Faculty Blog] Among the most important of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s contributions to American history were his commentaries on the relationship between the law and social justice. King’s views toward the law can be divided into two categories: law as obstacle and law as opportunity. Law as an Obstacle to … Continue reading Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Law

Chief Justice Roberts Discusses Technology at the Supreme Court

The Chief Justice began his year-end report on the federal judiciary with a colorful historical excursion: On November 10, 1893, the Washington Post identified an emerging technology that was reshaping American society: Pneumatics! The miracle of compressed air had led to the creation of new contraptions, including pneumatic tube systems that relied on air compressors … Continue reading Chief Justice Roberts Discusses Technology at the Supreme Court

Robert Kennedy’s Day at the Supreme Court

We used to have a tradition that each U.S. Attorney General would argue at least one case before the Supreme Court. Although he never argued a case in any court, Robert Kennedy was intent on following this tradition. (After appointing his brother as Attorney General, President Kennedy joked: “I can’t see that it’s wrong to … Continue reading Robert Kennedy’s Day at the Supreme Court

The Justices, Their Papers, and the Claims of History

Why do we care about what goes on behind closed doors at the Supreme Court? Do the justices have some sort of responsibility to ensure that the American people learn, at some point, the “inside” story of the Court? A recent article in the New Yorker by Jill Lepore on the theft of some of … Continue reading The Justices, Their Papers, and the Claims of History