Analysis and Commentary on Courts and Procedure
Samuel Alito Channels His Inner Donald Trump and Shows Himself to Be the ‘Trumpiest’ Supreme Court Justice

Amherst professor Austin Sarat comments on the most recent off-the-Court behavior by Justice Samuel Alito: preemptively responding to a ProPublica report that the Justice had gone on a $100,000 trip paid for by Republican mega-donor Paul Singer. Professor Sarat argues that this behavior is just the latest demonstration of Alito’s “grievance conservatism” and has no place on the highest court in the land.

Chief Justice John Roberts and the “Privilege” of Seeing the World from Behind Fences and Barricades

Amherst professor Austin Sarat reflects on the acceptance speech by Chief Justice John Roberts of the American Law Institute’s Henry Friendly Medal. Professor Sarat argues that the speech demonstrates the Chief Justice’s lack of empathy for litigants whose lives the Court’s decisions affect and a lack of awareness of his own life of privilege.

How Did Six Conservative Catholics Become Supreme Court Justices Together?

Penn professor Marci Hamilton and UNLV Boyd School of Law professor Leslie C. Griffin explain how six conservative Catholics were able to be on the U.S. Supreme Court at the same time. Professors Hamilton and Griffin describe how 1970s and 1980s laid the groundwork for today’s conservative Catholic Court and argue that this group is making extraordinary progress toward making the United States a Catholic theocracy.

The Court Should Maintain Optionality in Resolving the So-Called “Independent State Legislature” (ISL) Theory by Granting Cert. in Huffman v. Neiman Right Away as the Justices Chew on Whether Moore v. Harper is Moot

Illinois Law Dean Vikram David Amar and Professor Jason Mazzone argue that, in light of the North Carolina Supreme Court’s “switcheroo” regarding partisan gerrymandering, the U.S. Supreme Court should immediately grant certiorari in Huffman v. Neiman to resolve the question of “Independent State Legislature (ISL) theory. Dean Amar and Professor Mazzone point out that the intense litigation pressure of today’s presidential elections and the shaky stature of the present Supreme Court together strongly support the Court acting quickly to resolve this pressing issue.

The Case for Televising Donald Trump’s Trials

Criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor Jon May discusses the rules regarding televising high-profile trials and calls for the trials of former President Donald Trump to be televised in the interest of transparency. Mr. May argues that courts have adequate procedural controls to ensure jurors and the judicial process are sufficiently protected and that televising the trials will allow anyone, anywhere in the country or the world, to see the truth for themselves.

Friendly Advice for Law Schools Seeking to Inculcate Proper Free-Speech Values and Understandings in Light of the Stanford Episode with Judge Kyle Duncan: Part Two in a Series

In this second of a series of columns in response to the Stanford Law School controversy involving disruption of a federal judge’s speech, Illinois Law dean Vikram David Amar and professor Jason Mazzone offer additional thoughts about how to design a training session about the freedom of speech and norms of the legal profession should include. Specifically, Dean Amar and Professor Mazzone discuss (1) when and how educational institutions should themselves speak, (2) the best ways to register disagreement with offensive speakers and messages, and (3) what schools should do about students who say they feel genuinely harmed or unsafe when certain kinds of speakers are present.

Ninth Circuit Limits Extraterritorial Reach of Trafficking Victims Protection Act

NYU Law professor Samuel Estreicher and 3L Anuja Chowdhury comment on a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit interpreting provisions of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). Professor Estreicher and Ms. Chowdhury explain the Ninth Circuit’s reasoning and conclusion that foreign defendants in TVPA civil actions cannot be found “present” within the meaning of the Act without a showing of either physical presence or purposeful direction of conduct towards the U.S. market.

The Inadequate “Adequate State Law Ground” Doctrine

Cornell Law professor Michael C. Dorf comments on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week in Cruz v. Arizona, in which a 5-4 majority of the Court delivered a rare victory to a capital defendant. Professor Dorf describes the circuitous path Cruz’s case took and how it highlights an inadequacy in the standard for viewing the “adequacy” of state law grounds for denying federal judicial intervention.

South Carolina Tries to Ramp Up Secrecy in a Frantic Effort to Restart Executions

Amherst professor Austin Sarat comments on the many attempts by South Carolina to resume executions in that state. Professor Sarat describes the recent history of capital punishment in that state and notes that a recent decision by the South Carolina supreme court put on hold a case involving death row inmates’ challenge to the state’s attempt to use the electric chair and the firing squad.

Do We Really Need the Third Amendment? Or What Can and Should We Do About Constitutional Vestiges

Amherst professor Austin Sarat points out the obsolescence of the Third Amendment and considers how we should regard that and other constitutional provisions that no longer serve the era in which we live. Professor Sarat argues that the Supreme Court has the unique authority to help the Constitution adapt to changing times, but the fascination of the Court’s current conservative majority with originalism threatens that adaptive capacity.

A Constitutional Republic Demands a Constrained Judiciary: Judicial Overreach in “Vacating” Biden’s Loan Forgiveness Program

Harvard Law professor emeritus Laurence H. Tribe comments on a decision by a federal judge in Texas vacating the Biden administration’s loan forgiveness program. Professor Tribe argues that Judge Mark Pittman, a Trump appointee, incorrectly concluded that the court had jurisdiction to review the challenge to the debt relief program and explains why judicial restraint is such a critical part of a constitutional republic.

Three Reasons the Midterms Were Good for Courts

Former federal prosecutor Dennis Aftergut describes three pieces of news from Tuesday’s elections that Americans who value the Constitution should celebrate. Specifically, Mr. Aftergut highlights the defeat of key state gubernatorial election deniers, the continued confirmation of federal court judges, and the affirmation by voters of their faith in the evidence-based work that courts do.

Mallory v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co.: Of Corporate Registration Statutes and Personal Jurisdiction

Touro Law professors Laura Dooley and Rodger Citron discuss a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of a state statute authorizing the exercise of general personal jurisdiction over corporations registered to do business in the state. Professors Dooley and Citron argue that the Court will almost certainly declare the state statute violates the due process rights of the defendant corporation, and they explore why that outcome is such a foregone conclusion.

The Federal Courts’ Future Is on the Ballot

Former federal prosecutor Dennis Aftergut explains the stakes of the upcoming election with respect to the shape and legitimacy of the federal courts. Mr. Aftergut points to numerous recent examples of federal district courts and courts of appeals fulfilling their role as factfinders and seekers of truth amid a country awash in election lies and conspiracy theories.

The Injustice, Insincerity, and Destabilizing Impact of the SCOTUS Turn to History

Cornell Law professor Michael C. Dorf argues that the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent cases demonstrate that the Supreme Court’s self-professed originalists are acting in bad faith, knowing that professed originalism is no more than a rhetorical envelope they can stuff with their conservative policy views. Professor Dorf explains why the Court’s new test of “text, history, and tradition” is unjust, insincere, and destabilizing.

Is Justice Kagan Right that Areas of Constitutional Law Should Not Change Quickly on Account of New Membership on the Court?

Illinois Law dean Vikram David Amar and professor Jason Mazzone comment on recent comments by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan expressing reservations about doctrinal changes attributable to the arrival of new Justices. Dean Amar and Professor Mazzone argue that new Justices have played an important and generally positive role in advancing the constitutional landscape.

It Is Time for the Supreme Court to Act: A Four Step Proposal to Strengthen the Court’s Legitimacy

Barry Winograd proposes a four-step plan to restore the legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court, which is currently facing a serious public relations problem. Mr. Winograd calls upon the Court itself to act—rather than waiting for the Executive or the Legislative branch—by: (1) providing live and orderly audio transmission of oral arguments, (2) adopting an enforceable code of ethics binding on all Justices, (3) establishing consistent standards limiting use of the Court’s “shadow docket,” and (4) establishing term limits for the Justices.

What the Divided Argument in the SCOTUS Affirmative Action Cases Could Mean

Cornell Law professor Michael C. Dorf comments on the possible significance of the Supreme Court’s decision to divide, rather than consolidate, argument in the affirmative action cases it will be deciding next term. Professor Dorf suggests the decision would allow Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to participate in one of the cases and could also allow the Court to attend to at least two important factual and legal differences between the two cases.

Meet our Columnists
Vikram David Amar
Vikram David Amar

Vikram David Amar is a Distinguished Professor of Law at UC Davis School of Law and a Professor... more

Neil H. Buchanan
Neil H. Buchanan

Neil H. Buchanan, an economist and legal scholar, is a visiting professor at both Osgoode Hall... more

John Dean
John Dean

John Dean served as Counsel to the President of the United States from July 1970 to April 1973.... more

Michael C. Dorf
Michael C. Dorf

Michael C. Dorf is the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School. He... more

Samuel Estreicher
Samuel Estreicher

Samuel Estreicher is Dwight D. Opperman Professor of Law and Director of the Center of Labor and... more

Leslie C. Griffin
Leslie C. Griffin

Dr. Leslie C. Griffin is the William S. Boyd Professor of Law at the University of Nevada, Las... more

Joanna L. Grossman
Joanna L. Grossman

Joanna L. Grossman is the Ellen K. Solender Endowed Chair in Women and Law at SMU Dedman School... more

Marci A. Hamilton
Marci A. Hamilton

Professor Marci A. Hamilton is a Professor of Practice in Political Science at the University of... more

Joseph Margulies
Joseph Margulies

Mr. Margulies is a Professor of Government at Cornell University. He was Counsel of Record in... more

Austin Sarat
Austin Sarat

Austin Sarat is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at... more

Laurence H. Tribe
Laurence H. Tribe

Laurence H. Tribe is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University and... more

Lesley Wexler
Lesley Wexler

Lesley Wexler is a Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Immediately... more