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Slate's Amicus with Dahlia Lithwick


A program about the law, and the nine Supreme Court justices who interpret it for the rest of America.

A program about the law, and the nine Supreme Court justices who interpret it for the rest of America.
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A program about the law, and the nine Supreme Court justices who interpret it for the rest of America.




The Rule of Law and the Ethics of Poking the Bear

It seems as though a slow motion constitutional crisis may be upon us. In this episode of Amicus, Dahlia Lithwick is joined by Lawfare blog editor and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Ben Wittes, to assess the threats to the rule of law posed by presidential pique, and whether fired FBI director James Comey’s book could be used as a pretext for ending the Mueller probe. Please let us know what you think of Amicus. Join the discussion of this episode on Facebook. Our email is...


Don’t Call It an Abortion Case

On this week’s show, Dahlia Lithwick is joined by Priscilla Smith, director of the Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice at Yale Law School, to unpack the oral arguments in NIFLA v Becerra, the latest case on the calendar that seems to be about one thing but is being argued under the all-encompassing umbrella of speech. Dahlia also speaks with Walter Dellinger, former acting solicitor general, about why President Donald Trump can’t get a lawyer. Spoiler: It’s because he...


All The President's Lawyers

This week Dahlia Lithwick calls on white-collar-crime specialist Jennifer Taub to follow the money in the Mueller investigation. She also speaks with Bob Bauer, a former White House counsel under President Barack Obama, about the relationship between presidents and their lawyers, and between this president and his lawyers. Bauer discusses when professional duty can stray into enabling, a question facing Trump’s personal and institutional lawyers as cases involving the president...


When Did Corporations Become People?

On this week’s show, Dahlia Lithwick is joined by UCLA Law Professor Adam Winkler to talk about his new book We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights. Together, they also examine what the constitutionalizing of corporate rights can tell us about the current gun debate. And Dahlia steps inside the chamber for oral arguments in the hugely significant public sector union case we previewed last show. She is joined by the Solicitor General of Illinois, David...


A Preview of a Union-Busting Case, and RBG’s Greatest Hits Tour

In this week’s episode, Professor Leah Litman joins Dahlia Lithwick to tune into Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s comments on #MeToo and due process. And for a full background check on the sexy-sounding Janus v. AFSCME case, which potentially poses an existential threat to public sector unions, Dahlia is joined by Professor Catherine Fisk of the U.C. Berkeley School of Law, who wrote about the case for SCOTUSblog. Please let us know what you think of Amicus. Join the discussion of this...


Immigration: Whose Call is it Anyway?

This week the high court is on its winter break, but the team here at Amicus wanted to talk about DACA, the travel ban, and issues around immigrants, refugees, and the law. We talk Americanism. Who is American and how? What do the courts have to say about who can be here and who cannot? What role do the courts play in figuring out who belongs here and who doesn’t? To tackle these thorny and sometimes super-wonky questions, Dahlia Lithwick is joined by Stephen Vladeck who teaches law at the...


“The Gross Spectacle of a Divided Defense”

We’re inside the chamber for the high-profile case involving a death row inmate from Louisiana who’s asking for a new trial after his lawyer told the jury his client was guilty, despite the client’s insistence that he was innocent. Jay Schwikert, a policy analyst with the Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice and co-author of an amicus brief filed in this case, joins Dahlia Lithwick to sift through the arguments and legal principles at play. Veteran Supreme Court reporter Linda...


The Right Not to Vote

Sometimes the technical stuff is how you get to the crucial stuff. Next week, the Supreme Court will hear a case about Ohio’s voter purge, and the case rests on some sticky statutory interpretation questions. Up to 1.2 million voters may have been purged from Ohio’s rolls after they sat out a couple of elections and in this episode of Amicus, Dahlia Lithwick does a deep dive into the technicalities of the case. Dahlia and her guests also use this moment to take stock of the state of voting...


#MeToo in the Courts

The cultural whirlwind of #MeToo has reached the judiciary, reluctantly bringing Dahlia Lithwick into the fray along with it. In a piece for Slate, she detailed her firsthand experiences with Judge Alex Kozinski. Dahlia’s was one of many accounts that that have now surfaced. Heid Bond was one of the first women prepared to go on the record. A former clerk to Judge Kozinski, she now writes romance novels under the name Courtney Milan. You can read Bond’s piece here and Judge Kozinski’s...


Probing the Mueller Probe, and Inside the Chamber for Masterpiece Cakeshop

The Mueller investigation keeps keeping on as subtweets, speculation, and objections mount. Dahlia Lithwick speaks with Andrew Wright, a former associate counsel to President Barack Obama about the latest developments. Plus a deep dive into the oral arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case with Roberta Kaplan, who successfully argued Edie Windsor’s case against the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. Transcripts of Amicus are available to Slate Plus members several days after each episode...


Slow Burn: Martha

Amicus presents a preview of Slow Burn, an eight-episode miniseries about Watergate. People called her crazy, and to be fair she must have seemed crazy. But she was onto something. How Martha Mitchell, the celebrity wife of one of Nixon’s closest henchmen, tried to blow the whistle on Watergate—and ended up ruining her life. Find out more at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Why the Cakeshop Case is So Delicious

As the high court continues through its unprecedented session, Dahlia speaks with Adam Liptak who covers the Supreme Court for the New York Times and knows the ins and outs of the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. And he gives his insight on what a jaw-dropping brief from the Solicitor General's office means for relations between the Court and the Trump administration. Plus, a look into how the Supreme Court Justices seem to be the last grown-ups left in Washington. Learn more about your ad...


Guns in America and the Travel Ban that Went Unnoticed

In the wake of another American mass shooting, Dahlia speaks with Adam Skaggs, Chief counsel at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence about the Second Amendment. And as this week marks the one year anniversary of Donald Trump’s election to office, Becca Heller, co-founder of the International Refugee Assistance Project, joins to talk about how her job changed after the election. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


The Single Most Unremarked Win of the Trump Era

Dahlia is joined by Kristen Clarke, President & Executive Director of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to talk about the federal judiciary and how Donald Trump is speedily filling the vacancies on the federal bench. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


The Supreme Court Term RBG is Calling "Momentous"

As next week marks the opening of the 2017 term at the high court, Dahlia Lithwick speaks with David Cole, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, about some of the cases in this upcoming term, including Trump's travel ban, a civil rights case of gay couples versus those of religious dissenters and more. Cole also discusses how citizen activism is more alive than he's seen is his lifetime, something he illustrates in his new book, now out in paperback, Engines of Liberty:...


Gerrymandering Goes Back to Court

When the Supreme Court term opens next month, perhaps no issue will be more urgent – and more complicated – than voting rights. One of the first cases the justices will hear is Gill v. Whitford, a challenge to the 2011 redrawing of district lines in Wisconsin. While the Court has struck down racially-motivated gerrymanders in the past, no election map has ever been rejected as a purely partisan gerrymander. And recent developments have some court watchers concerned that Justice Anthony...


Breakfast Table Redux

The Supreme Court’s 2016 term may not have contained the usual number of blockbuster cases, but it did have its fair share of drama. Between the stonewalling of Merrick Garland, the filibustered confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, rumors about Anthony Kennedy’s possible retirement, and in the background, the White House offensive against the federal judiciary, court-watchers had no shortage of things to keep them up at night. And so this week on Amicus, we pour a couple of our favorite...


Nice Little FBI You’ve Got Here. Pity if Something Happened to it.

In his much-anticipated testimony on Capitol Hill this week, former FBI Director James Comey described several uncomfortable interactions with President Trump that preceded his firing. The big question for all watching was: could any of those interactions be considered “obstruction of justice?” On this week’s episode, we put the question to Stanford Law School Professor Robert Weisberg. We also discuss the ongoing litigation around President Trump’s executive order on immigration with...


Clarence Thomas is Color Blind

This week, the Supreme Court handed down a decision that caught some Court-watchers off-guard. It ruled that North Carolina lawmakers had violated the Constitution by using race as a proxy for divvying up voters along partisan lines. And it was surprising because the swing vote invalidating the gerrymander came from none other than Justice Clarence Thomas. On this week’s episode, we parse the outcome of Cooper v. Harris -- and what it portends for future redistricting litigation -- with...


Animus Amicus

In the wake of the unceremonious termination of FBI director James Comey this week, one previously unfamiliar name has dominated the news cycle: Rod J. Rosenstein. The former federal prosecutor became the U.S. Deputy Attorney General just over two weeks ago, and since then, has found himself at the center of storm around President Trump’s most high-profile firing to date. Leon Neyfakh has been covering Rosenstein for the past few weeks, and joins us to talk about whether anyone at the...


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