Y’all may not know this about me, but I love the Supreme Court of the United States. I love it. I have only ever really talked about John Paul Stevens on this blog, and God knows I adore John Paul Stevens, but more generally, I am a massive, massive fan of the Supreme Court. When fall comes and Dahlia Lithwick starts posting her Supreme Court recaps, my heart is filled with the kind of joy that I normally only feel when someone writes a complimentary post about Oscar Wilde and his continued relevance to modern life.
The Supreme Court is by far my favorite branch of government, and that would continue to be true even if, like, the Doctor turned out to be real and got elected to the presidency. The Supreme Court is fantastic because it is a bunch of intelligent people sitting around talking intelligently (mostly) about important (mostly) questions. Even members of the Court of whom I am not very fond nevertheless say smart, insightful things, and sometimes totally surprise me by simultaneously being John Roberts and talking in favorable terms about Jimi Hendrix.
You can take a moment to process that. It was weird for me too.
(Some Supreme Court Justices are famously more taciturn than others, and that is just fine. Some Supreme Court Justices are a creep and I am not interested in what they have to say. Y’all know what I’m talking about.)
So, anyway! My friend told me about this excellent thing, The Oyez Project, a project of the Chicago-Kent College of Law. It posts audio of oral arguments for all the cases that have come before the Supreme Court since 1968 (I believe), plus transcripts for many important cases from History. The recent audio files come with a transcript so you can follow along, and it notes who’s speaking at every moment, so if I am listening to the audio and I think, Who is this no-nonsense fellow who seems so particularly in love with the Constitution?, I can glance at the scrolling notes and see that it is Scalia.
I am writing this post on Monday for to be posted on Wednesday (displacing my review of River of Smoke), and today, the first day after finding out about this website, I have so far listened to the oral arguments for Golan v. Holder, which deals with copyright law (something I am pretty interested in, actually), and then for Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, which deals with what constitutes a minister in a religious organization and thus exempts that position from scrutiny by the EEOC. All very interesting (here’s Dahlia Lithwick’s write-up of the latter), but if I may be honest with you, the case I am most interested in this season — so far — is FCC v. Fox Television Stations. I can. Not. Wait. For FCC v. Fox Television Stations. Or should I call it, The Return of FCC v. Fox Television Stations! FCC v. Fox Television Stations Rides Again! FCC v. Fox Television Stations II: Clarence Thomas Creates Cognitive Dissonance for Jenny by Swinging the Vote in the Direction She Desires It to Be Swung. (That’s the most optimistic of my potential sequel titles.)
You can listen to (and download!) the oral arguments over whether anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional (they were). Or Roe v. Wade! Or Miranda rights! How m.f. cool is that?
Okay. That’s my pitch. You may now feel free to steal my lunch money and stuff me in my locker.
Do you know about the mock trials they do with the Shakespeare Theatre Company? They do one every year, related to some play being performed at the theatre. I’ve not been able to go to one yet, but this past year’s case–United States v. Cheveley–would be of particular interest to you.
I don’t think I do know about that! I remember the Supreme Court guys did that thing a few years ago where they tried a case about whether Shakespeare wrote his own plays or not. They thought yes.
I’m reading a book right now that combines Shakespeare & US law! He briefly mentioned those mock trials. 🙂
It’s good you aren’t interested in what some who are a creep have to say, since said creep notoriously (and thankfully) doesn’t say ANYthing!
I know! Legal Sister says he doesn’t even want to have oral arguments at all, but just work from the lawyers’ briefs.
Ha! I got a grant years ago to do a mock trial of Hamlet, we used the Supreme Court Justice video of their trial of Hamlet, too. It was great!
Aw, that sounds really fun! Was Hamlet on trial, or the uncle?
I’m glad to see the Supreme Court still has a few groupies. I’m not the fan of it that I once was, but I’d still rather live in a country with one, than a country without one.
Me too! I’m not an unqualified fan, but I do love that we have one, and I love listening to them duke it out with the poor lawyers.
I am so happy for you that you found this resource to check out what is going on with the Supreme Court! I know very little about the Supreme Court, but now I feel as though it’s something that I need to explore more earnestly. I might just have to check out some of this stuff!
I am so happy too! I am infinity happy!
Good to finally meet the supreme court’s fan. Hang in there! I know it must be lonely.
Hahahahahaha. I think they are better liked than you might think!
You’ve made me wish I WAS interested in the Supreme Court. It all sounds so exciting.
And what do you mean “IF the Doctor turned out to be real”?? I swear I heard the tardis land the other day and I will not be convinced otherwise.
Do not toy with my emotions! I so need the TARDIS to be real!
Dude, Scalia may be wrongity mcwrong a lot, and the whole originalist thing is whacked, but you gotta respect him. And when he’s right? It. Is. Awesome. (I was so happy he wrote the Brown v Entertainment Merchants opinion, I was wishing he would).
Also? O’Conner used to make lunch for her clerks and have them all get together and discuss their cases. Isn’t that nice?
Yes, I totally love Scalia when he’s on. I like it the best when the Justices (not the new ones, but like Breyer and Ginsburg and Scalia) get all sort of politely disbelieving, like Chrestomanci.
That…actually does sound awesome!
It is so great. I listened to Loving vs. Miranda yesterday on the subway, and it was just fascinating. Plus, inspirational. I felt all warm and fuzzy inside.
You are just too cute. and amusing. and oddly odd in a good way.
I have a niece named in honor of a mother of a SCJ. or something. (Her name is Ada.)
Was there one called Ada? Can’t’ve been, can there? Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman SCJ. However, Ada is a very, very pretty name, and I am all in favor of your sister/brother’s name choice.
“A MOTHER of a SCJ.” Silly Jenny.
Also, you know how some Supreme Court Justices are a creep? Some of those same SCJ’s have a wife who is a certifiable wack job, which I also find disturbing, because I want to pretend that none of them have any personal lives. I don’t know why.
And isn’t it intriguing how the arguments against miscegenation are the same ones against gay marriage?
I’m cracking up over Care’s comment! If you weren’t on the other side of the country right now, I would definitely steal your lunch money tomorrow. 🙂
HaHA, joke would be totally on you. I do not HAVE any lunch money because I only have SALAD for lunch and I MAKE it mySELF.
Then I’m taking your salad!
Jenny, what a delightful post! You woman of many layers, you. Have you read the delightfully dorky work of Sarah Vowell? Your passion for things legal reminded me of her passion for things historical. Assassination Vacation describes her travels to sites where American presidents were assassinated.
I’m not obsessed like you are but I am pretty excited to find out about these. Thanks!!
They are fascinating! It is easy to quickly become obsessed. 🙂
I love this post 🙂 You should do a post sometime about reading recommendations for learning about the Supreme Court. I’d love that too!
I’m a Brit and I love the US Supreme Court. We’ve got our own one now but everyone just kind of forgets that it exists. My husband is a complete geek so I can imagine us sitting together listening to these. What a great idea for my new obsession.
I too have a ridiculous obsession with the Supreme Court! In elementary school, my great goal in life was to be a Supreme Court Justice. 😀
Loved your post, Jenny! This is so awesome! Thanks for all the links! It is wonderful that they have posted audio versions of all the cases since 1968. It will be wonderful to hear landmark cases and experience how it must have been to the people who participated in it and the audience who saw it in court.