Strict Scrutiny

Strict Scrutiny

Strict Scrutiny is a podcast about the United States Supreme Court and the legal culture that surrounds it. Hosted by three badass constitutional law professors-- Leah Litman, Kate Shaw, and Melissa Murray-- Strict Scrutiny provides in-depth, accessible, and irreverent analysis of the Supreme Court and its cases, culture, and personalities. Each week, Leah, Kate, and Melissa break down the latest headlines and biggest legal questions facing our country, emphasizing what it all means for our daily lives. Whether you’re a lawyer or law student, or you’re just here for the messy legal drama, Strict Scrutiny has you covered. New episodes out every Monday… plus bonuses whenever SCOTUS takes away another one of our rights.


March 27, 2023 70 min

Strict Scrutiny takes Hawaii! Senator Mazie Hirono joins Kate, Leah, and Melissa for a live show at the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law. We catch up on the latest in anti-abortion legislation, recap the Supreme Court's arguments from last week (including the Jack Daniels'/poop jokes case), and discuss a first-of-its-kind opinion out of the Hawaii Supreme Court.

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Melissa, Leah, and Kate preview three Supreme Court cases up for argument this week. The cases focus on water rights on Indian reservations, the constitutionality of a federal law that prohibits people from encouraging unlawful immigration, and Jack Daniels (yes, the alcohol company) suing a dog toy company over a poop-related joke. Plus, a new venture from Leonard Leo provides some insight into what conservatives think liberals si...

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First things first: WE WON AN AMBIE!  Leah, Kate, and Melissa gather to raise a glass and celebrate this huge honor. Then, Kate and Melissa talk with Joanna Schwartz about her new book, Shielded: How the Police Became Untouchable. Plus, a quick overview of what we expect from the Supreme Court before it ends its term in late June.

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What’s going to happen to the federal student debt relief plan? Melissa, Leah and Kate give listeners some answers as they break down last week’s Supreme Court oral arguments on the cases blocking 20 million borrowers from seeing between $10,000 and $20,000 of forgiveness on their federal student loans. They also discuss how those arguments could affect a pending federal court ruling that could force the FDA to reverse its approval...

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Leah and Kate recap the arguments in the big Internet cases the Supreme Court heard last week. Plus, they look ahead to the upcoming arguments in the student debt cancellation cases-- and to an election in Wisconsin that you should all be watching.

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February 20, 2023 69 min

Danielle Citron, author of The Fight for Privacy: Protecting Dignity, Identity, and Love in the Digital Age, joins Leah and Melissa to preview two  Supreme Court cases that ask whether online platforms should be held liable for user-uploaded content. Plus, more drip-drip-drip from the investigation of the Dobbs  leak.

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February 13, 2023 64 min

Leah and Kate talk to Jessica Valenti, writer of the Substack newsletter “Abortion, Every Day,” which documents the rapidly changing landscape of abortion rights in the U.S. after Dobbs. Plus, they highlight a federal court opinion that would allow people facing domestic violence orders to possess guns, and President Biden’s (brief) State of the Union comment about vetoing any national abortion ban legislation. 

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Melissa and Kate talk with Sasha Issenberg, journalist and political science professor at UCLA, about his book The Engagement: America's Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage. Issenberg offers a glimmer of hope about the lasting legality of same-sex marriage, even in light of Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion in Dobbs. But he warns about the dangerous exemptions that could be carved out through 303 Creative, wh...

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Melissa interviews Dahlia Lithwick about her best-selling book Lady Justice: Women, the Law, and the Battle to Save America. They discuss overlooked women who shaped the legal system, complicity in judicial culture, the problem with clerkships, and what it means to actually participate in rebuilding a broken system. The conversation was originally a virtual New York University Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network Book Talk in Octobe...

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January 23, 2023 76 min

Kate and Leah were live from the University of Pennsylvania in Strict Scrutiny's first live show of 2023! Penn Law Professor Jasmine E. Harris joined the hosts to recap arguments in a case that could impact disability rights. Kate and Leah recap two other arguments, in a case about immigration law and another about the ability to criminally prosecute corporations owned by foreign states. Plus, a major update about the Supreme Court...

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January 16, 2023 71 min

Kate, Melissa, and Leah recap the Supreme Court's the first oral arguments of 2023, which includes cases about union labor laws, attorney-client privilege, and Puerto Rico's sovereign immunity. Plus-- some theories about why the Court hasn't issued any opinions this term, and some breaking news in the investigation over the leaked Dobbs opinion.

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January 9, 2023 68 min

Melissa, Kate, and Leah reconvene to preview the cases the Supreme Court will hear in its January sitting. Manny Pastreich, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) local 32BJ, joins us to lay out the stakes in a pair of cases involving labor unions.

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December 26, 2022 68 min

Tomiko Brown-Nagin joins Melissa and Kate to discuss her book Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality. You may recognize the name Constance Baker Motley from Ketanji Brown Jackson's speech upon receiving her nomination to SCOTUS. Motley was the first black woman to be appointed to the federal bench-- and she and Justice Jackson share a birthday. Judge Motley's story illustrates the fights for equali...

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December 19, 2022 90 min

Before we can really get into the holiday spirit, we have to deal with the lump of coal the Supreme Court heard on December 7th: Moore v. Harper. The case is about a fringe legal theory that says that when it comes to regulating elections, state legislatures can do anything they want-- even violate the state constitution-- and state courts can’t intervene to stop them. It's bad, scary, foreboding, toxic, etc. Leah, Kate, and Meliss...

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The Supreme Court recently heard 2.5 hours of oral arguments in 303 Creative v. Elenis-- the case about a Colorado website designer who doesn't want to create wedding websites for gay couples. The arguments were absolutely bonkers, with justices invoking kids in KKK uniforms, Black mall Santas, dating sites for people seeking affairs, and re-education camps. Leah, Kate, and Melissa recap the arguments and what they may portend for ...

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December 5, 2022 86 min

Melissa and Kate recap oral arguments in a couple of cases that could limit the reach of federal fraud statutes, plus an immigration case out of Texas. And of course, there's the latest story out of the New York Times, spilling the tea on a years-long effort by conservative activists to ingratiate themselves with Supreme Court justices.

On December 6th, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Moore v. Harper, a case about the indep...

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November 28, 2022 78 min

Melissa, Kate, and Leah preview the cases that the Supreme Court will hear in December-- from election law shenanigans, to discrimination as protected speech, to making fraud great again. 

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November 21, 2022 52 min

On Saturday, the New York Times published a piece about a former anti-abortion leader's claim that he was told the outcome of a 2014 Supreme Court case before it was public. The story offers a glimpse at a years-long campaign by conservative activists to obtain access to and ingratiate themselves with Supreme Court justices. It's really wild and really disturbing-- so Leah, Kate, and Melissa convene for an emergency episode to disc...

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Rebecca Nagle, host of Crooked Media's This Land, joins Melissa, Leah, and Kate to recap the arguments in Haaland v. Brackeen. The case revolves around the Indian Child Welfare Act, which lays out a set of preferences for where Native American children can be placed for foster care and adoption. The challengers, white foster parents trying to adopt Native American children, are claiming a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of...

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November 7, 2022 94 min

Leah, Kate, and Melissa recap the many, many hours of oral arguments in the affirmative action cases SCOTUS heard last week.

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