Amarica’s Constitution
The Memes of Dobbs’ Leak

The Memes of Dobbs’ Leak

May 10, 2022

As the Dobbs/Supreme Court leak, and its would-be draft opinion, percolate through the public and the media, certain alarms are sounded again and again.  Are these worries realistic?  What does the opinion say; what are the constitutional arguments and questions; where are the justices on these questions?  We look at some of the more prominent pundits saying the more meme-like (and frightening) things, and put them to the test.

Woe is Roe

Woe is Roe

May 4, 2022

The bombshell news this week was the leak of a purported majority opinion of the Court in the Dobbs case - the Mississippi abortion 15 week law.  Needless to say, the media were breathless in short order, and apocalyptic articles began to appear everywhere.  For our part, we read the draft opinion and have a dissection and analysis of it start to finish for you.  We also discuss some previous Supreme Court leaks, and ask what arguments Justice Alito may have missed, which may be a preview of dissents to come.

Citizenship and Citations

Citizenship and Citations

April 27, 2022

Professor Amar, it is frequently said (by him, among others), has been cited by the Supreme Court more than anyone else in his generation.  This week, he is once again cited.  We discuss the case, the citation, the underlying theory, and citation in general.  Along the way we find ourselves in company with the Great Dissenter, with his namesake John Marshall, and many more.  This small citation in a concurrence takes us to a legal theory that has enormous implications.

Is Jackson Commissioned?

Is Jackson Commissioned?

April 19, 2022

Justice Breyer’s unusually worded “resignation letter” raises a host of constitutional questions that perhaps he did not intend.  Who is asking them?  We are.  A cascade of confusion - from resignation to confirmation to reconsideration to commission to oath.  The Biden Administration says we should ask William Rehnquist about it, because he told us the answer.  Except he didn’t.  Listen to it all, and while we’re at it, we also wind up our clips from the hearings with contrasting Senators (understatement) - and Dean Vik Amar drops in to help with it all.  A jam-packed episode this week!

Rights and ”Justice”

Rights and ”Justice”

April 13, 2022

Judge Jackson - or is it Justice Jackson (we discuss) - is confirmed, but we aren’t done discussing it yet.  Distilling the non-nonsensical questioning down, it really was an attempt to probe into the question of rights; who decides, and how, what rights Americans have?  We listen to the colloquy and use it as a jumping-off point for a wide-ranging discussion of fundamental, enumerated, and unenumerated rights - among other things.

Graham Crock-er

Graham Crock-er

April 5, 2022

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings have concluded, as has the committee vote.  We put the Senators, and the Judge, back on the stage.  We listen to them and comment.  What do we know now about the Judge, and about the Senators, in terms of their view of their respective constitutional roles, and their constitutional views?  Their own words are replayed, and then Akhil and Senate expert Vik Amar critique them - and educate us.  Oh, and Lindsay Graham had something to say.

The Hearings According To Durbin - Special Guest Vikram D. Amar

The Hearings According To Durbin - Special Guest Vikram D. Amar

April 2, 2022

We’re a little late this week, but it’s worth it, as we are able to report on a lengthy conversation that our (returning) guest, Dean Vik Amar of the University of Illinois School of Law, had with the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, just hours before our podcast taping.  He offered Vik and his students a truly inside look at the Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings just conducted, as well as his perspective on confirmations in general, and some truly surprising perspectives and possible ideas for reform - and now, our listeners have this early access to them.

Confirmation Correction - Special Guest Vikram D. Amar

Confirmation Correction - Special Guest Vikram D. Amar

March 22, 2022

Ketanji Brown Jackson prepares to testify at Senate confirmation hearings, and the air is filled with confirmation bromides. It is said that a judicial nominee cannot speak about past cases.  Or about cases that might come up.  Or about legal theories.  Is this true?  Some say that all that matters is that the nominee be qualified and admirable.  Can the Senate inquire further?  How far can a nominee go in committing themselves on anything?  Fortunately, we have a leading Senate expert, law school Dean, public intellectual - and, an “Amar” on “Amarica’s Constitution.”  No, not Akhil, but Vik Amar, Dean of the Illinois College of Law and the first American of Indian descent to clerk for a Supreme Court Justice, to be a major Law School Dean.  Listen to the “brothers-in-law” as they prepare you for the hearings.  And - even more important - hear about their forthcoming law review article that may do nothing less than save the country.  No kidding.

Lawyer of the Century

Lawyer of the Century

March 15, 2022

Walter Dellinger and Charles Black are hard acts to follow, but our concluding role model is up to the task.  Telford Taylor was legislator, war hero, Nuremberg prosecutor, international law pioneer, law firm founder, tenured professor and scholar extraordinaire, public intellectual, and always a principled, skilled lawyer.  Professor Amar admired his work from afar, and that admiration led to a personal meeting, to Akhil’s first major law review article in the Harvard Law Review, and ultimately, to the opening scene of his latest book.  Meanwhile, in the news, we also take time to look at the latest developments, statements, and misstatements filling the air on the notorious Texas abortion law, SB8.

The Music of the Law

The Music of the Law

March 9, 2022

Continuing our exploration of inspirational models in the law that deeply influenced Professor Amar’s career, today we learn of a predecessor of last week’s model - the newly passed Walter Dellinger - as we hear of the life of Charles Black.  A son of the deep South, Black made an enormous mark as he was a vital part of the team that won Brown vs. Board of Education, and in the aftermath, we see his genius as he defends the decision, and separately reflects on how he came to his principled positions.  We see this as he picks up pen and paper and leaves these notes for the ages.  You will now hear these writings and Akhil’s reaction to them, and ultimately they will lead us back to considering the emerging picture of Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominee to the Supreme Court, in these lights.

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