Archive for November, 2015

Update on the Supreme Court

Saturday, November 14th, 2015

Slate Magazine senior editor Dahlia Lithwick recaps highlights from the Supreme Court’s last term, previews the new term, and talks about current big themes. Ms. Lithwick spoke at our Friday November 13, 2015 meeting.  The program was moderated by SSV President Bob McGrath. Listen to the podcast of her remarks.


2015-11-13-1-lithwickDahlia Lithwick is a senior editor at Slate Magzine, and in that capacity, writes the Supreme Court Dispatches and Jurisprudence columns. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Harper’s, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and Commentary, among other places. She won a 2013 National Magazine Award for her columns on the Affordable Care Act.

Ms. Lithwick has been twice awarded an Online Journalism Award for her legal commentary and was the first online journalist invited to be on the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press. Ms. Lithwick has testified before Congress about access to justice in the era of the Roberts Court. She has appeared on CNN, ABC, The Colbert Report, and is a frequent guest on The Rachel Maddow Show. Ms. Lithwick earned her BA from Yale University and her JD degree from Stanford University. She is currently working on a book about the four women justices of the United States Supreme Court.

Program Summary

Dahlia Lithwick described the 2014 term which ended in June 2015 as monumentally important and interesting and addressed the following cases:  lethal injections; the challenge to ObamaCare to dismantle the Affordable Care Act; nonpartisan redistricting commissions; housing discrimination; separation of powers case (who gets to set policy about foreign affairs); a trifecta of free-speech cases; and two religious freedom cases.

What was emblematic about this term was that the left wing of the court that doesn’t always hang together, hung together (they absolutely worked as a team) and the right wing did not. The big takeaways were that Justice Anthony Kennedy was “The Decider” and that a lot of the cases that came to the court probably shouldn’t have been to the court in the first place.

In pivoting to a discussion of the coming term. Ms. Lithwick did so with the caveat that the court hasn’t docketed the whole term so we don’t know what’s coming up in the spring. Some of the cases the court will hear this term include the challenge to the proposition that one-person, one-vote is the law of the land; financing of public sector unions; affirmative action: abortion; a slew of criminal and class action cases; and a challenge to the exemption for contraception in the Affordable Care Act (just fill out a form to be exempt) that was accorded Hobby Lobby.

Ms. Lithwick noted how important the presidential election will be and the stakes with regard to the Supreme Court recognizing that with all the judges aged 80 and over we’ll see a sea change in the next four to five years.