Supreme Court Historical Society Audio Recordings

  • Bill of Rights 225th Anniversary – DECEMBER 2, 2016
    Professor Colleen Sheehan talked about James Madison’s role in the creation of the Bill of Rights. December 15, 2016, marked the 225th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights.

  • Sacco-Vanzetti Murder Case – NOVEMBER 16, 2016
    Law professor Brad Snyder talked about the controversy surrounding the 1920 Sacco-Vanzetti case in which Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian American anarchists, were charged with robbery and murder in Massachusetts.

  • The Supreme Court and Property Rights in the Progressive Era – NOVEMBER 2, 2016
    The Supreme Court and Property Rights in the Progressive Era – Professor James W. Ely, is Milton R. Underwood Professor of Law Emeritus and Professor of History Emeritus at Vanderbilt University. His publications include The Guardian of Every Other Right: A Constitutional History of Property Rights, The Fuller Court: Justices, Rulings and Legacy and Railroads and American Law. He has been awarded the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize and the Owner Counsel of American Crystal Eagle Award for his scholarly endeavors.

  • Comparing Approaches to Historical Narrative – OCTOBER 20, 2016
    Cokie Roberts moderated a panel discussion entitled “Doing History: Comparing Approaches to the Historian’s Craft.” Participants included historical novelist Thomas Mallon, historical documentary producer Grace Guggenheim, and author and historical researcher Michael Hill.

  • Life and Legacy of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis – OCTOBER 19, 2016
    Melvin Urofsky, author of Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, talked about the Supreme Court justice’s life, legal career, and legacy. This event was in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of his appointment to the nation’s highest court.

  • Lochner v. New York Supreme Court Case – MAY 25, 2016
    Lochner v. New York Supreme Court Case The Supreme Court Historical Society hosts a discussion among authors and academics on the 1905 U.S. Supreme Court case Lochner v. New York. In the decision, the Court ruled a New York law limiting the number of hours a baker could work violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s guaranteed “liberty of contract.” The decision ushered in what’s know in legal history as the “Lochner Era,” with the Court striking down many state and federal regulations on working conditions over a three decade period. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer introduces this event.

  • Supreme Court and Foreign Relations – JUNE 6, 2016
    Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer talked about the influence of foreign relations on American national security and civil liberties. He spoke about cases featured in his book, The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities, including Korematsu v. United States and cases involving Guantanamo Bay detainees.

  • Influence of Chief Justice John Marshall – MARCH 9, 2016
    Influence of Chief Justice John Marshall Jeffrey Rosen spoke about on the influence of former Chief Justice John Marshall, who served from 1801-1835. Mr. Rosen talked about the ideological differences between Justice Marshall and President Thomas Jefferson, and Marshall’s influence on later Supreme Court Justices. Chief Justice John Roberts provided introductory remarks.

  • Reconstruction Era Rights – OCTOBER 14, 2015
    Professor Laura Edwards spoke about the differences between federal and local courts during the Reconstruction Era. The actions of these courts frequently conflicted with each other in applying the new Constitutional amendments of the post-Civil war period. This was the third of a series of four speeches on the Supreme Court and Reconstruction hosted by the Supreme Court Historical Society. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan introduced Ms. Edwards in the Supreme Court Chamber.

  • U.S. Supreme Court 1873 Slaughterhouse Cases – OCTOBER 28, 2015
    Professor Randy Barnett talked about the U.S. Supreme Court Slaughterhouse Cases. In the series of cases, the Supreme Court upheld a monopoly of slaughterhouses in New Orleans to protect public health and sanitation. The Slaughterhouse Cases were the first cases in which the court commented on the meaning of the 14th Amendment.

  • Reconstruction Amendments – MAY 13, 2015
    Professor Pamela Brandwein, author of Rethinking the Judicial Settlement of Reconstruction, talked about the Reconstruction Amendments – the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. She was introduced by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

  • Magna Carta Legal Heritage – JUNE 1, 2015
    Baroness Brenda Hale, deputy president of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, delivered the Supreme Court Historical Society’s annual lecture. The topic was the shared legal heritage of the U.S. and U.K. drawn from the Magna Carta. The society was commemorating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.

  • Erwin Griswold Book Prize Lecture on Nixon’s Court – APRIL 30, 2015
    Kevin McMahon, author of Nixon’s Court: His Challenge to Judicial Liberalism and Its Political Consequences, delivered the Erwin Griswold Book Prize Lecture in the U.S. Supreme Court chamber. President Nixon had the opportunity to fill four seats on the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. McMahon talked about the strategy behind the president’s appointments and the impact he had on the court and American politics. Mr. McMahon was introduced by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

  • Reconstruction and the U.S. Supreme Court – MARCH 11, 2015
    Professor Michael Ross talked about the role of the Supreme Court during Reconstruction. He spoke about the tensions between President Andrew Johnson and the Republican-controlled Congress, the short-lived period of Southern black legislatures, and how hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan used the 14th Amendment to promote white supremacy. He was introduced by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

  • Chief Justice Roger Taney and the Civil War – NOVEMBER 8, 2014
    Timothy Huebner talked about Chief Justice Roger B. Taney and emancipation. Roger B. Taney served as chief justice of the United States from 1836 to his death in 1864 and delivered the majority opinion in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case. Professor Huebner spoke about public opinion of Chief Justice Taney and how it was shaped by the changing political landscape leading up to and during the Civil War. He was introduced by Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. 

  • 50th Anniversary of the Warren Commission – MAY 22, 2014
    James Swanson talked about the formation, goals, and legacy of the Warren Commission, which was established to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Mr. Swanson is the author of End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy. Mr. Swanson was introduced by Chief Justice John Roberts. The program was hosted by the Supreme Court Historical Society.

  • Justice Holmes and the Civil War – MAY 8, 2014
    Panelists at the Supreme Court Historical Society talked about the impact of the Civil War on the life of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.  The Supreme Court Historical Society’s 2014 Leon Silverman Lecture Series, “The Supreme Court and the Civil War Revisited,” marked the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. ”Touched with Fire: Justice Holmes and the Civil War,” the second of the four lectures, was held in the courtroom of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, D.C.

  • Dred Scott and the Supreme Court – MAY 1, 2014
    Lea VanderVelde talked about the Dred Scott v. Sanford Supreme Court case of 1857, the repercussions of the decision, and why its location in Missouri was very important. Dred Scott, who was a slave, attempted to sue his owner John Sanford for his family’s freedom after they had been moved to a free state by their former master. Among other points, the court ruled that slave or free African Americans could not sue in federal court because they could not be U.S. citizens. 

  • Personal Accounts from U.S. Solicitors General – OCTOBER 25, 2013
    Former Solicitors General Drew Days, Paul Clement, and Justice Elena Kagan recounted the experiences and challenges of the position, which represents the United States government before the Supreme Court.

  • History of Bell v. Maryland – DECEMBER 2, 2013
    Panelists talked about Bell v. Maryland, a civil rights case argued in 1963, in which Robert Bell, who was a student at the time, was arrested for protesting against segregation. Mr. Bell later served as Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals. This event was sponsored by the Supreme Court Historical Society.

  • Native American Lands and the Supreme Court – APRIL 5, 2013
    Angela Riley spoke in the Supreme Court chamber about the history of the Supreme Court and Native American lands. The lecture, which took place in the Supreme Court chamber, was one in a series hosted by the Supreme Court Historical Society on the Constitution, the Supreme Court, and property rights. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg introduced Professor Riley.

  • The Supreme Court and Eminent Domain – OCTOBER 10, 2012
    Richard Epstein is the author of Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain. In his book he argues that eminent domain has been interpreted too narrowly by the courts. He says that the courts had forced the government to compensate a citizen when his land is taken to build a post office, but not when its value is diminished by a comprehensive zoning ordinance. He also responded to questions from the audience.

  • 30th Anniversary of Justice O’Connor’s Appointment – APRIL 11, 2012
    Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan participated in a forum with former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Justice O’Connor’s nomination and confirmation to the Court. Sandra Day O’Connor was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate 99 to 0. She retired from the Court January 31, 2006.
    The justices talked about the evolution of the confirmation process since Justice O’Connor’s nomination. their law careers, and civility among justices. They also shared funny anecdotes and their observations about serving on the Court. James Duff moderated this event in the Newseum’s Annenberg Theater.

  • The Kennedy White House and the Press – MAY 16, 2011
    A panel discussion was held on President Kennedy’s relationship with the press. The event was held in the State Department auditorium where President Kennedy held the first regularly scheduled televised press conferences. Video clips were shown. The panelists also responded to questions from members of the audience. Former Clinton administration press secretary Mike McCurry moderated. The program opened with a historical overview of White House and press relations from Professor Kumar.
    This National Heritage Lecture marked the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy and of the establishment of the White House Historical Association.

  • Original Intent and a Living Constitution – MARCH 23, 2010
    Justices Stephen Breyer and Antonin Scalia participated in a discussion on the constitutional theories of original intent and the Constitution as a living document. They also discussed the use of legislative history in judicial decisions. Mr. Duff moderated.
    “Original Intent and a Living Constitution — A Discussion” was part of the 2010 Leon Silverman Lecture Series: The Supreme Court and Separation of Powers.

  • The Supreme Court Appointment Process – APRIL 20, 2010
    Barbara Perry spoke about the Supreme Court appointment process as part of the 2010 Leon Silverman Lecture Series. She was introduced by Chief Justice John Roberts.

  • Office of the Solicitor General – DECEMBER 8, 2009
    A panel of former U.S. solicitors general discussed the role of the solicitor general, the duties associated with the job, and arguing before the Supreme Court. The moderator was former Deputy Solicitor General Kenneth Geller.

  • The Ephemeral Nature of Landmark Cases – APRIL 30, 2008
    Michael Belknap talked about Dennis v. United States, a “landmark” case even if time and other cases have changed the legal landscape. Eugene Dennis, the general secretary of the Communist Party USA, was convicted under the Smith Act of 1940 for conspiring and organizing the overthrow and destruction of the United States government by force and violence. The Supreme Court in 1950 affirmed this conviction.

  • Chief Justice John Marshall – APRIL 9, 1997
    Following introductory remarks by Justice Thomas, Professor Johnson discussed his new book titled, The Chief Justiceship of John Marshall, 1801-1835. He discussed the 34-year career of John Marshall as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and Marshall’s contributions to the Court.

  • Military Courts and Tribunals – DECEMBER 11, 2002
    After an introduction by Justice O’Connor, Mr. Belknap talked about the use and history of military courts, tribunals, and commissions.
    This was the final lecture in a series hosted by the Supreme Court Historical Society on the U.S. Supreme Court in times of national emergency.

  • Chief Justice Taft – OCTOBER 8, 1997
    Mr. Post discussed the life and career of William Howard Taft, the only man in the history of the United States to serve as President of the United States and Chief Justice of the United States. Mr. Post said that Taft’s career on the Court is relatively obscure even though he changed the Court in a number of ways.

  • Brandeis and the Progressive Constitution – MAY 23, 2001
    Professor Purcell discussed his book, Brandeis and the Progressive Constitution: Erie, the Judicial Power, and the Politics of the Federal Courts in Twentieth-Century America, published by Yale University Press. The book is about former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and his effect on the Court in the early-to-mid 20th century. The author focused on Brandeis’ opinion in the 1938 landmark case, Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins, which caused a shift of power from federal to state courts. He examined Brandeis’ jurisprudence, how it differed from that of the other justices at the time, and its effect on democracy and the courts.

  • Supreme Court of George Washington – SEPTEMBER 14, 1999
    Ms. Marcus talked about the Supreme Court in its infancy during the presidency of George Washington. Among the issues she addressed were the number of justices, Washington’s decision making process, and the personalities on the court.

  • Jefferson’s Supreme Court Appointments – FEBRUARY 23, 2005
    Professor Abraham spoke about “Jefferson’s Trio of Appointments to the Court.” This is the first in a series of five lectures in the Supreme Court Historical Society’s 2005 lecture series held in the Supreme Court chamber. Chief Justice Rehnquist’s administrative assistant, Sally Rider, introduced him.

  • Supreme Court in World War II – MAY 11, 1995
    Professor Hutchinson discussed the participation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson as chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremburg Trials following World War II.

  • Civil Rights Movement – NOVEMBER 30, 2004
    Representative John Lewis spoke about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as this year marks the 40th anniversary of that landmark legislation. Representative Lewis was a leading figure during the 1960’s civil rights movement. Introductory remarks were made by former Speaker of the House Tom Foley.