The Single Best Guide I’ve Heard to the Supreme Court’s Rightward Shift
The end of this Supreme Court term has delivered a firestorm of conservative legal victories. States now have far less leeway to restrict gun permits. The right to abortion is no longer constitutionally protected. The Environmental Protection Agency has been kneecapped in its ability to regulate carbon emissions, and by extension, all executive branch agencies will see their power significantly diminished.
But to focus only on this particular Supreme Court configuration is to miss the bigger picture: In the past few decades, conservative court majorities have lurched this country’s laws to the right on almost every issue imaginable. Shelby County v. Holder gutted the Voting Rights Act and opened the door for states to pass restrictive voting laws. Rucho v. Common Cause limited the court’s ability to curb partisan gerrymandering. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission unleashed a torrent of campaign spending. Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 weakened unions. And a whole slew of cases, including some decided on the shadow docket during the Covid-19 pandemic, undercut federal agencies’ power to help govern in an era of congressional gridlock.
Kate Shaw is a law professor at Cardozo School of Law, a co-host of the legal podcast Strict Scrutiny and a former clerk for Justice John Paul Stevens. In this episode, she walks me through the most significant Supreme Court cases over the past 20 years, from the court’s decision to hand George W. Bush the presidency, to the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act, to the extrapolation of an individual’s right to bear arms. Along the way, we discuss the right’s decades-long effort to transform American law from the bench, how Republican-appointed judges have consistently entrenched Republican political power, the interpretive bankruptcy of constitutional originalism, how the Warren Court radicalized the conservative legal movement, what might happen to decisions like Obergefell v. Hodges now that the majority seems to be so comfortable throwing out precedent, what cases to watch in the Roberts Court’s next term, and more.
“After Citizens United: How Outside Spending Shapes American Democracy” by Nour Abdul-Razzak, Carlo Prato and Stephane Wolton
“The Most Important Study in the Abortion Debate” by Annie Lowrey
The Turnaway Study by Diana Greene Foster
Torn Apart by Dorothy Roberts
Who Decides? by Jeffrey S. Sutton
51 Imperfect Solutions by Jeffrey S. Sutton
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