The Supreme Court, Public Opinion, and the Future of the American Democracy
December 5th, 2022 -- 12:00 – 1:00 pm EST
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Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, in the wake of a number of controversial decisions, recently declared that “You don’t want the political branches telling you what the law is, and you don’t want public opinion to be the guide about what the appropriate decision is.” On the other hand, Justice Elena Kagan, when opining about the Court’s recent decisions has said, “I’m not talking about any particular decision or even any particular series of decisions, but if over time the court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment, that’s a dangerous thing for a democracy.” As the Court takes up controversial issues ranging from affirmative action to voting rights, how has the Court historically used (or ignored public opinion) in their decision making process? What, if any, role should public opinion play in shaping the court’s decisions? What impact will unpopular court decisions have on perceptions of the legitimacy of the Court? Please join our esteemed panel of guests and moderator, Kimberly Atkins Stohr, as they discuss the role of public opinion in shaping the decisions of the Supreme Court.
Kimberly Atkins Stohr
Kimberly Atkins Stohr is a senior opinion writer and columnist at The Boston Globe, and lead columnist for The Emancipator, a joint venture by Globe Opinion and the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research that reimagines 19th-century abolitionist newspapers to reframe the current national conversation on racial justice. She authors The Emancipator’s newsletter, Unbound. She is also an MSNBC contributor, a guest host for the NPR/WBUR-produced news program On Point, and co-host of the weekly Politicon legal news podcast #SistersInLaw. Previously, Kim was the first Washington, DC-based news correspondent for WBUR. She has also served as the Boston Herald’s Washington bureau chief, guest host of C-SPAN’s morning call-in show Washington Journal, and a Supreme Court reporter for Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly and its sister publications. She has appeared as a political commentator on a host of national and international television and radio networks, including CNN, Fox News, NBC News, PBS, NPR, Sky News (UK), and CBC News (Canada). Before launching her journalism career, she was a trial and appellate litigation attorney in Boston. Kimberly is a native of Michigan, and a graduate of Wayne State University, Boston University School of Law and Boston University College of Communication, and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Hannah Hartig is a research associate at Pew Research Center, where she primarily studies U.S. political attitudes and voting behavior. She has authored analyses on topics including domestic views of U.S. foreign policy, voter turnout in 2020 and views of abortion. Prior to joining the Center, she was director of research at the Penn Program on Opinion Research and Election Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She regularly discusses the Center’s political research with the news media and has served as an election night exit poll analyst for NBC News since 2014. Hartig received her bachelor’s in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and master’s degree in quantitative politics from the University of Pennsylvania.
Elizabeth Lane is an Assistant Professor in the Louisiana State University Department of Political Science. She earned her PhD from Michigan State University in American politics in research methods in 2019. Her research centers on the intersection of race, gender, and judicial behavior at the Supreme Court. Her recent work focuses on how attorney and judge identity shape important policy outcomes and how these factors influence the public's view of the United States Supreme Court. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the American Political Science Association. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Law and Courts, American Politics Review, and has been featured by The London School of Economics Phelen Center Blog and Vox. She currently serves as the faculty representative for LSU's Pre-Law Society.
Dahlia Lithwick is a senior editor at Slate and, in that capacity, has been writing their Supreme Court Dispatches and Jurisprudence columns since 1999. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Harper’s, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The New Republic, and Commentary. Lithwick hosts Amicus, Slate’s award-winning biweekly podcast about the law and the Supreme Court. In 2018 Lithwick received the American Constitution Society’s Progressive Champion Award, and the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis. Lithwick won a 2013 National Magazine Award for her columns on the Affordable Care Act. She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in October, 2018. Lithwick has held visiting faculty positions at the University of Georgia Law School, the University of Virginia School of Law, and the Hebrew University Law School in Jerusalem. She has appeared on CNN, ABC, The Colbert Report, the Daily Show and is a frequent guest on The Rachel Maddow Show. Lithwick earned her BA in English from Yale University and her JD degree from Stanford University. Her new book, Lady Justice, published by Penguin Press (September 2022) was a New York Times bestseller.
Amanda Savage is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Loyola University Chicago where she teaches courses on Constitutional Law and federal judicial politics. Her research focuses on the interactive relationship between the Supreme Court and public opinion. She has published work examining how the Court is influenced by the public and, more recently, how the public responds to the Supreme Court, especially to judicial nominations. She received her PhD from the University of Minnesota in 2014.