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supreme court

Book cover for "The Engagement"
Pantheon / Pantheon

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state bans on gay marriage were unconstitutional, making same-sex unions legal across the United States.

But the road to that momentous decision was much longer than many know. In her new book, "The Engagement: America's Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage," Sasha Issenberg vividly guides us through same-sex marriage’s unexpected path from the unimaginable to the inevitable.

Sasha Issenberg is the author of three previ¬ous books, including "The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns." He is the Wash¬ington correspondent at Monocle and teaches in the political science department at UCLA.

Outside the U.S. Supreme Court
WAMC/Ian Pickus

Democrats last week introduced legislation to expand the Supreme Court from 9 seats to 13. The move comes after President Donald Trump appointed three conservative justices while in office, one of whom was confirmed days before the 2020 election.

A white man with white hair gesticulates while wearing a suit jacket.
Josh Landes / WAMC

Massachusetts U.S. Senator Ed Markey is running for his second full term in next week’s election. The Democrat defeated Congressman Joe Kennedy III in September’s Democratic primary, and now faces Republican Kevin O’Connor in a contest he is expected to dominate. Markey – who endorses expanding the Supreme Court – joined his party in voting against the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Tuesday. He spoke with WAMC about that vote, and why he’s pushing to enshrine women’s access to abortion in Massachusetts law.

Senator Patrick Leahy
WAMC/Pat Bradley

Vermont’s senior U.S. Senator criticized both Republicans and Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett during the first day of confirmation hearings Monday.

Long before the September 18th death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, at least one congressional candidate in New York was talking about expanding the Supreme Court. Now, as President Trump has nominated conservative Amy Coney Barrett, other Democrats are considering the same, among other options.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal
Official portrait

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said about Justice Ginsburg - "She will always be an American icon, breaking barriers from the courtroom and the classroom to every place in America and leaving her mark on immigration, gun violence prevention, gender equality, civil rights and civil liberties," Blumenthal added - "I will always remember the incisive, strong questions she asked when I was arguing before her, but also the compassion and caring that she demonstrated."

Blumenthal, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee says the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court Justice.

Julie Suk is a legal scholar and author of the new book, “We The Women: The Unstoppable Mothers of the Equal Rights Amendment” and is a frequent commentator in the media on legal issues affecting women, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vox, and CBS News. She is currently a Visiting Professor at Yale Law School.

In the new book, she excavates the ERA’s past to guide its future, explaining how the ERA can address hot-button issues such as pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, and unequal pay. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg plays a big part in that story and Julie’s book.

Derrick Wang is a composer, writer, and creator of the opera “Scalia/Ginsburg,” a crash course on the U.S. Constitution and the people who uphold it that ushered in the current era of Supreme Court-themed art. Hailed as a “perfect…jewel” (Opera Today) and “the kind of opera that should be everywhere” (OperaWire), “Scalia/Ginsburg” was premiered at the Castleton Festival.

The Los Angeles Times wrote: “Could we please make it a constitutional requirement that no one can be sworn into office in the White House or Congress without first having seen Scalia/Ginsburg?”

Tony Award Winner Linda Lavin is best known portraying the title character in the TV series "Alice." She is also known for making several stage performances in many Broadway and Off-Broadway projects like "Death Defying Acts," "The Lyons," "Last of the Red Hot Lovers," "Broadway Bound," "Gypsy," and "The Diary of Anne Frank," to name a few.

In addition, Lavin has received the Golden Globe Award twice under the category Best TV Actress in a Musical or Comedy for her work in "Alice." Besides these, she is also a two-time Obie Award awardee. In 2011, Lavin was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.

She joins us this morning to talk about another credit she has – she narrated the book: "My Own Words" by Ruth Bader Ginsburg - which we heard portions of during The Roundtable Panel this morning.

9/21/20 Panel

Sep 21, 2020

  The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, investigative journalist and UAlbany adjunct professor Rosemary Armao, political consultant and lobbyist Libby Post, Albany Law School professor and director of the Immigration Law Clinic Sarah Rogerson.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a prosecutor’s demand for President Donald Trump’s tax returns as part of a criminal investigation that includes hush-money payments to women who claim they had affairs with Trump.

A sign hangs from a brick arch against a grey sky
Josh Landes / WAMC

By a 5-4 margin, the Supreme Court has blocked an effort from the Trump administration to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The program was created by the Obama administration in 2012, and allows some immigrants who entered the country as children – regardless of the legality of their immigration – to remain in the country without threat of deportation for a renewable two-year period. It also makes them eligible for work permits in the United States. WAMC spoke with Berkshire Immigrant Center Executive Director Michelle Lopez about the program and today’s ruling.

Robin Pogrebin and book cover for "The Education of Brett Kavanaugh"
Photo of Pogrebin: Lorin Klaris Photography

One year ago today, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice by a 50–48 vote in the Senate. In September 2018, the FBI’s weeklong investigation of the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, then President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, left millions of Americans feeling unsatisfied, even more questions unanswered, and a slew of testimonies unexplored.

Through fly-on-the-wall reporting and exclusive interviews with classmates, friends, and colleagues, New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly fill in the blanks with a deeply reported account of the events leading to the explosive confirmation hearing in their new book: "The Education Of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation."

Robin Pogrebin is a reporter on the New York Times' Culture Desk, where she covers the art world and cultural institutions, exploring the internal politics, finances and governance of museums, auction houses, galleries and performing arts organizations.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader in a speech on May 28, uttered one of the most hypocritical and cynical statements that have been made in recent memory.  Mr. McConnell made it clear that if a vacancy appeared in the Supreme Court in 2020, that he would move it through the Senate because there was a Republican President.  All of the nonsense which he spewed in 2016 about Judge Garland was a lie.  He wallows deep in the swamp. 

John Roberts was named to the Supreme Court in 2005 claiming he would act as a neutral umpire in deciding cases. His critics argue he has been anything but, pointing to his conservative victories on voting rights and campaign finance. Yet he broke from orthodoxy in his decision to preserve Obamacare. How are we to understand the motives of the most powerful judge in the land?

In "The Chief," award-winning journalist Joan Biskupic contends that Roberts is torn between two, often divergent, priorities: to carry out a conservative agenda, and to protect the Court's image and his place in history.

Book Cover - Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation

Steve Luxenberg is the author of "Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation" and the critically acclaimed "Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret." During his thirty years as a Washington Post senior editor, he has overseen reporting that has earned numerous national honors, including two Pulitzer Prizes.

Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court case synonymous with “separate but equal,” created remarkably little stir when the justices announced their near-unanimous decision on May 18, 1896. Yet it is one of the most compelling and dramatic stories of the nineteenth century, whose outcome embraced and protected segregation, and whose reverberations are still felt into the twenty-first. "Separate" spans a striking range of characters and landscapes, bound together by the defining issue of their time and ours: race and equality.

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock discusses a Supreme Court decision temporarily blocking a Louisiana law that would have left the state with only one abortion provider. He also comments on acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker's expected testimony before the House Judiciary Committee today, and reports that the National Enquirer blackmailed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. 

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock discusses a pair of votes scheduled in the Senate for Thursday on competing bills to end the partial government shutdown. He also comments on New York state legislators passing the Reproductive Health Act to codify Roe v. Wade into state law, and the Supreme Court's first gun rights case in nine years. 

Vermont Statehouse
Photo by Pat Bradley

Democrats in the Vermont Senate are expected to pursue measures in the upcoming session that would ensure a woman's legal right to an abortion in the state.

How Will Kavanaugh Impact Supreme Court?

Oct 8, 2018
U.S. Supreme Court

How will Brett Kavanaugh rule as a member of the U.S. Supreme Court? That question is being considered by conservatives and liberals alike. 

United States Capitol Building
Liam James Doyle/NPR

In an unusual weekend session, the U.S. Senate advances to a final vote on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Watch the proceedings live.

In fewer than three hundred words, Khizr Khan electrified viewers around the world when he took the stage at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. And when he offered to lend Donald Trump his own much-read and dog-eared pocket Constitution, his gesture perfectly encapsulated the feelings of millions by challenging Trump's call to stop Muslims from entering the U.S.

In response, Trump questioned the Khan's motives and religion, even though they are Gold Star parents whose son was killed in Iraq. Today, Donald Trump is president and Khizr Khan is the author of a new book, "An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice" – just out in paperback. He has also written a book for young readers entitled, "This Is Our Constitution: Discover America with a Gold Star Father."

Khan was in Albany, New York to participate in New York State Writers Institute's Albany Book Festival at the University at Albany.

With the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Court has never before been more central in American life. It is the nine justices who too often now decide the controversial issues of our time—from abortion and same-sex marriage, to gun control, campaign finance and voting rights.

The Court is so crucial that many voters in 2016 made their choice based on whom they thought their presidential candidate would name to the Court. Donald Trump picked Neil Gorsuch—the key decision of his new administration. The next justice—replacing Anthony Kennedy—will be even more important, holding the swing vote over so much social policy. Is that really how democracy is supposed to work?

David A. Kaplan is the former legal affairs of Newsweek, where he covered the Court for a decade. His other books include "The Silicon Boys," "The Accidental President," and "Mine’s Bigger." A graduate of Cornell and the New York University School of Law, he teaches courses in journalism and ethics at NYU.

His new book is "The Most Dangerous Branch: Inside the Supreme Court's Assault on the Constitution."

Alan Chartock

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock shares his thoughts on the New York Times editorial, which discusses the "resistance" within the Trump Administration. Dr. Chartock also discusses day two of the Senate confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The struggle to desegregate America's schools was a grassroots movement, and young women were its vanguard. In the late 1940s, parents began to file desegregation lawsuits with their daughters, forcing Thurgood Marshall and other civil rights lawyers to take up the issue and bring it to the Supreme Court. After the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, girls far outnumbered boys in volunteering to desegregate formerly all-white schools.

In "A Girl Stands at the Door," historian Rachel Devlin tells the remarkable stories of these desegregation pioneers. She also explains why black girls were seen, and saw themselves, as responsible for the difficult work of reaching across the color line in public schools. 

Rachel Devlin is an associate professor of history at Rutgers University.

Rep. Peter Welch
photo provided

President Trump’s influence on the Supreme Court could be felt for decades.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Vermont Representative Peter Welch continues his conversation with WAMC’s Alan Chartock.

New York State Capitol
Karen DeWitt

President Trump is set to announce his choice for a new Supreme Court justice replace the retiring Anthony Kennedy who he’s said could eventually result in the reversal of the abortion rights case Roe v. Wade. New York has had legal abortion since 1970, three years before the landmark Supreme Court ruling. But advocates, and many Democratic politicians, say it’s not enough, and it could become an issue in this year’s governor’s race.

U.S. Supreme Court
WikiMedia Commons

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on union fees, labor leaders and politicians who rely on union support, have reacted with angry words. Some elected officials have signed executive orders and introduced legislation in reaction to the 5-4 ruling. But as WAMC’s Brian Shields reports, one legal expert believes the Supreme Court has had the final say.

Stephen Gottlieb: The Courts Stand Up For Impunity

Jun 27, 2017

In one of the last cases to be decided this term of Court, the Supreme Court described the death of Sergio Hernandez as “a tragic cross-border incident.”[1] Indeed. I want to make clear that I care deeply about this case. Several friends and I helped write an amicus brief to the Court about it.[2]

U.S. Supreme Court
WikiMedia Commons

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is awaiting a confirmation vote by the full Senate, but Democrats have secured enough votes to filibuster. A vote is expected Friday. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled he will likely change Senate rules to reduce the threshold from 60 votes to a simple majority to get Gorsuch confirmed – the so-called “nuclear option.”