Why A Terrible U.S. Supreme Court Is The Historical Norm

You’ve probably heard jokes about lawyers before. Here’s a more advanced version, coming from future Chief Justice Of The U.S. Supreme Court John Roberts in April of 1983: “The generally accepted notion that the court can only hear roughly 150 cases each term gives the same sense of reassurance as the adjournment of the court in July, when we know the Constitution is safe for the summer.” We know, we know, it’s not exactly a kickass one-liner. But what if it is getting at something true about the U.S. Supreme Court’s overwhelming power? What if our whole Constitution can vanish because five out of nine Justices get a little too active? And what if Chief Justice Roberts is a perfect example of the inconsistent, insensitive, inscrutable jurists who’ve hamstrung American democracy for centuries…all without most people noticing?

On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Ian Millhiser, author of the book Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted. They’ll re-discover the forgotten SCOTUS decisions that endorsed everything from racism to sexism to wildly villainous child labor. They’ll explore the complicated make-up of today’s Court, with a view to how its faults could destroy it. And great news: they’ll celebrate the rare past SCOTUS that got a whole lot of things right, and look at how that golden era could happen all over again.


Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted by Ian Millhiser

Ian Millhiser on Twitter

Canadian Supreme Court group photo, 2016

Alito rips Canadian Supreme Court’s ‘Santa Claus’ robes (Chicago Sun-Times)

“The emerging divide between the Supreme Court’s Republicans” by Ian Millhiser (ThinkProgress)

Small states are getting a much bigger say in who gets on Supreme Court (CNN)

story from Nov. 3rd, 2016: “If Clinton Wins, Republicans Suggest Shrinking Size of Supreme Court” (NPR)

“Let’s Think About Court-Packing” by Ian Millhiser (Democracy Journal)

1937: Roosevelt announces “court-packing” plan (History.com)

“The switch in time that saved nine” (Wikipedia)

The American Liberty League, 1934-1940 (JStor / The American Historical Review)

Earl Warren (History.com)

A New Lochner Era (Slate)

An Incomplete List Of Nightmare SCOTUS Decisions

Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)

United States v. Cruikshank (1876)

Chae Chan Ping v. United States (1888)

In re Debs (1895)

United States v. E. C. Knight Company (1895)

Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust (1895)

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

Downes v. Bidwell (1901) and the other “Insular Cases”

Lochner v. New York (1905)

Muller v. Oregon (1908)

Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918)

Schenck v. United States (1919)

Adkins v. Children’s Hospital (1923)

Buck v. Bell (1927)

Grovey v. Townsend (1935)

Korematsu v. United States (1944)

San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez (1973)

Smith v. Maryland (1979)

New York v. Quarles (1984)

Bush v Gore (2000)

Vieth v. Jubelirer (2004)

Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire (2007)

Citizens United v. F.E.C. (2010) and McCutcheon v. F.E.C. (2014)

Shelby County v. Holder (2013)

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores (2014)

Trump v. Hawaii (2018)

TIMELY UPDATES (as of Jan. 21st, 2019)

When we talked about major Supreme Court news coming on “Friday”, we were referencing SCOTUS’s Friday January 18th conference, where they could announce taking cases or passing on cases. Now it looks like they’re waiting until Tues. Jan. 22nd to announce any decisions from that. More details here. A heads-up: we’re not planning on updating this space with Tuesday’s news, since that is after this episode releases.

According to Pete Williams of NBC News, the potential Supreme Court case impacting DACA must be taken up very soon to be heard in the current SCOTUS term. If it’s not taken up soon, the DACA program will continue for at least ten more months. Story here.

“Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky Inc.” is the full name of the “Box” potential case impacting Planned Parenthood funding. More details here.

Exciting Tour News!

See the first-ever Cracked Podcast LIVE TOUR this spring! Get your tickets now for: Thursday April 11th — Lincoln Hall, Chicago IL and Friday April 12th — Amsterdam Bar and Hall, St. Paul MN.

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/why-terrible-u.s.-supreme-court-historical-norm

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