Monday, October 4, 2010
Our Least Understood Institution The new term of the U.S. Supreme Court opens today with a new justice, for the first time ever three women sit on the high court and, for the first time since 1970, no Justice John Paul Stevens. Tomorrow night - October 5 - I'll be talking about some of the most significant history of the Supreme Court at the Library at Cole and Ustick in Boise. The event, free and open to the public, begins at 7:00 pm. The focus of the talk, presented under the banner of the Idaho Humanities Council's Speakers Bureau, is the huge fight over the summer of 1937 that resulted from Franklin Roosevelt's sweeping plan to enlarge the court - pack it his critics said - and turn the Court in a dramatically new direction. As I've researched the story - Idaho's William Borah was deeply involved in the fight - I have come to believe there are still echoes of that long ago fight in the way the Court operates today. The modern confirmation process was, in many ways, born of that fight in 1937 and the raw political implications of who sits on the Court and why came sharply into focus. Still, even when its actions are in the news constantly, the Court remains perhaps the least understood of our government institutions. I'll look forward to the chance to talk about the Supreme Court Tuesday evening and answer questions. Please come by if you can.