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Slate's Amicus with Dahlia Lithwick

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Slate

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

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English


Episodes

Gerrymandering Goes Back to Court

9/16/2017
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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...

Duration: 00:36:19


Breakfast Table Redux

6/28/2017
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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...

Duration: 00:59:01


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

6/10/2017
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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...

Duration: 00:52:29


Clarence Thomas is Color Blind

5/28/2017
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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...

Duration: 00:44:05


Clarence Thomas is Color Blind

5/26/2017
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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...

Duration: 00:39:04


Animus Amicus

5/13/2017
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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...

Duration: 00:53:10


Animus Amicus

5/13/2017
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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...

Duration: 00:53:10


The Myth of the Neutral Expert

4/29/2017
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The Supreme Court has slowed Arkansas’ unprecedented rush to execute eight men in 11 days, pending a decision in McWilliams v. Dunn. At issue in the case is whether James McWilliams, an indigent defendant whose mental health was a significant factor at his capital trial, was entitled to an independent psychological expert to testify on his behalf. We discuss the case with Stephen Bright, longtime president of the Southern Center for Human Rights, who represented McWilliams at this week’s...

Duration: 00:42:55


Playground of Liberty

4/14/2017
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Newly sworn-in Justice Neil Gorsuch gets his first chance to make his mark on the Court at this week’s oral arguments for Trinity Lutheran v. Comer. The important case asks whether the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause compels the state of Missouri to provide public grant money directly to a church. Holly Hollman, general counsel for the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, joins us to discuss BJC’s amicus brief in the case, which argues that religious institutions are...

Duration: 00:49:50


When Prosecutors Keep Mum

4/1/2017
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In 1985, eight men were convicted of the grisly murder of a Washington D.C. woman. After spending decades in prison, they learned from an article in the Washington Post that prosecutors had withheld evidence from trial that could have exculpated them. This week, the Supreme Court delved back into the details of the 30-plus year old murder case and considered whether the case should be reopened. Former defense lawyer Thomas Dybdahl is writing a book about the murder and its aftermath, and...

Duration: 00:53:37


Gorsuch Grins, Says Nothing

3/25/2017
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This week, the Senate held four days of hearings on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the vacant seat on the Supreme Court. What did we learn about Gorsuch from his 20-odd hours in the hot seat? Did the Democrats gain anything of value from the testimony? Did Gorsuch say anything of substance? And, in the end, will the hearings even matter? In this bonus episode, we reflect on the hearings with veteran political operative Ron Klain and Slate’s own Mark Joseph Stern. Transcripts of...

Duration: 00:47:14


Why It’s Worth Opposing Gorsuch

3/18/2017
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After a successful blockade of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, the GOP-led Senate will convene hearings this week on President Trump’s pick for the Court’s year-old vacancy. Considering all that has happened in the past year, how should Democrats handle the proceedings? On this week’s episode, we put that question to U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. We also sit down with veteran journalist Tom Rosenstiel to discuss his debut...

Duration: 00:48:57


Never Mind

3/4/2017
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On Monday, the Department of Justice announced an abrupt about-face on voting rights, essentially walking away from a lawsuit against a harsh voter-ID law in Texas. We discuss the reversal and its implications with Janai Nelson of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She was one of the lawyers in the strange position of arguing the case in court this week, the day after the DOJ reversed course. We also sit down with Jeffrey Fisher, who argued an important immigration-related case...

Duration: 00:53:26


General Strike

2/18/2017
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In 2010, a Mexican teenager in Juarez was shot to death by a Border Patrol agent on the U.S. side of the border. In Hernandez v. Mesa, set for argument next week, the Supreme Court will determine whether the boy’s parents can sue the agent in U.S. courts. We are joined by Deepak Gupta, the family’s attorney, to discuss the case and its potential implications on American intelligence activities abroad. We also sit down with Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring to discuss this week’s...

Duration: 00:50:54


"SEE YOU IN COURT"

2/11/2017
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A little more than a week after President Trump announced his ban on travel from a handful of majority-Muslim nations, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit this week refused to lift a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of the new rule. This week, Dahlia sits down with fellow Slate legal writers Mark Joseph Stern and Jeremy Stahl for a special off-week episode to discuss the ruling and its implications. Transcripts of Amicus are available to Slate Plus members....

Duration: 00:38:52


Will You Accept This Robe?

2/3/2017
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In an elaborately choreographed prime-time ceremony this week, President Trump tapped Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court seat that has been vacant for almost a year. We sit down with the Constitutional Accountability Center’s Elizabeth Wydra to examine Judge Gorsuch’s judicial record, whether he really is “Scalia 2.0,” and the difficult choices confronting Senate Democrats in the wake of this nomination. We also consider the ramifications of reports that some U.S. Customs and Border...

Duration: 01:03:09


Immunity in High Places

1/21/2017
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Can a group of wrongfully-detained noncitizens sue high-ranking Bush Administration officials for violating their rights in the days following 9/11? That’s the central question in Ziglar v Abbasi, which was argued this week at the Supreme Court. On today’s episode, we hear from Rachel Meeropol of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who represented the former detainees. We also consider Lee v. Tam, another big case argued at the high court on Wednesday. It centers on a trademark claim by...

Duration: 00:53:31


And Then There Were Eight

1/7/2017
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In the lead-up to November’s presidential election, Donald Trump released a list of 21 potential Supreme Court nominees in what many saw as an effort to mollify conservatives who tend to worry about these sorts of things. Now, that list has reportedly been narrowed to eight. On this episode, we sit down with William Jay, a former clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia, to discuss Scalia’s possible successors. We also speak with Jack Robinson, a lawyer for the special-needs student at the center...

Duration: 00:49:10


Corruption in America

12/24/2016
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“[N]o person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” These words, from Article I of the U.S. Constitution, make it unambiguously clear to many legal scholars that Donald Trump will be committing an impeachable offense by not relinquishing an ownership stake in his multiple companies before Jan 20. Zephyr Teachout is among...

Duration: 00:59:34


Where We Draw the Line

12/10/2016
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On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in McCrory v. Harris and Bethune-Hill v. Virginia Board of Elections, two challenges to Republican gerrymandering efforts that resulted in the creation of majority-minority voting districts. At issue is whether lawmakers in Virginia and North Carolina were motivated primarily by racial considerations or only secondarily so. Marc Elias, the lawyer who represented the challengers in both cases, joins us to explain why the distinction is so...

Duration: 00:39:25

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