united states constitution

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."

Linda Hirshman
Nina Subin

Close Encounters with Music is presenting Linda Hirshman and The Feminine Mystique at The Mount in Lenox this coming Sunday at 3 p.m. It is part of their series: Conversations With - intimate and stimulating conversations about music and ideas.

Lawyer, best-selling author, and cultural historian Linda Hirshman has chronicled battles that have changed the social landscape of America in her books Get to Work: A Manifesto For Women of the World, Hard Bargains: The Politics of Sex, and others.

Hirshman will analyze the 14th and 19th Amendments in tandem as two paths to equality in the suffrage effort and as they affected private and public lives of women. 

In The Constitution Today, Akhil Reed Amar, America’s preeminent constitutional scholar, considers the biggest and most bitterly contested debates of the last two decades and provides a passionate handbook for thinking constitutionally about today’s headlines.

Amar shows how the Constitution’s text, history, and structure are a crucial repository of collective wisdom, providing specific rules and grand themes relevant to every organ of the American body politic.