Strict Scrutiny

Strict Scrutiny

Strict Scrutiny is a podcast about the United States Supreme Court and the legal culture that surrounds it. The show is hosted by three women, Leah Litman, Kate Shaw and Melissa Murray, who are three law professors, but they’re also swimmers, mothers (of humans and dogs), and celebrity gossip enthusiasts. They’re women who’ve practiced before and write about the Court in their professional lives. They have a different voice–one that celebrates the contributions and opinions of women and people of color. They provide intelligent and in-depth legal analysis alongside their unvarnished, respectfully irreverent takes. And they want to do it in a way that is accessible to a variety of listeners, including Supreme Court regulars, lawyers, law students, and members of the public who are looking for a window into the Court’s decisions, as well as its culture, personalities, and folkways. The hosts think SCOTUS is serious business—but they don’t take ourselves or the Court too seriously. They’ve got hot takes, jokes, and a lot to say.


January 30, 2023 59 min

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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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 C...

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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.

  • Listen to our past episode on the 303 Creative v. Elenis case that's men...
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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 fo...

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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 Me...

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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 ...

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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 i...

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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...

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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 Claus...

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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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    October 30, 2022 76 min

    On Halloween, the Supreme Court will hear pair of cases challenging affirmative action in university admissions. Spooky! Janai Nelson, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, joins Melissa, Kate, and Leah to preview the cases.

  • Listen to an episode on race conscious remedies from our spin-off show, Irrational Basis Review
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    Kate talks with Deborah Tuerkheimer about her recent book, Credible: Why We Doubt Accusers and Protect Abusers. A former prosecutor and leading authority on sexual violence, Deb's book examines why we are primed to disbelieve allegations of sexual abuse--and how we can transform a culture and a legal system structured to dismiss accusers.

    This episode contains discussions of sexual violence. Please use discretion and take care o...

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    October 17, 2022 73 min

    Kate, Melissa, and Leah recap some of the cases argued at the Supreme Court last week: Reed v. Goertz, National Pork Producers Council v. Ross, and Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts v. Goldsmith.  Plus, there's a lot to catch up on in court culture, including judges trying to cancel cancel culture, and another round of Ginni Tonics.

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    October 10, 2022 76 min

    Melissa, Kate, and Leah welcome Sam Sankar of Earthjustice and Deuel Ross of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund to recap  arguments the Supreme Court heard this week in two big cases. Sackett v. EPA is a challenge to the EPA’s authority to regulate wetlands, and Merrill v. Milligan is a Voting Rights Act case out of Alabama that’s really about whether Congress may ensure the representation and political power of voters of col...

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    October 3, 2022 67 min

    It feels like we're still processing the end of last term, but alas, the first Monday in October is upon us. Kate, Melissa, and Leah kick off season 4 of Strict Scrutiny with a look ahead at what's sure to be another heinous Supreme Court term. 

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    September 26, 2022 70 min

    For the University of Michigan's Homecoming weekend, we held a special live recording for our season finale. Michelle Adams joins Kate and Leah to wrap up the justices' summer shenanigans and provide a look forward at the collegiate affirmative action cases coming before the Supreme Court this term. Plus, Sommer Foster, co-Executive Director at Michigan Voices, joins to talk to us about Reproductive Freedom For All, the bal...

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    Leah talks with Wilfred Codrington III about his article, "Purcell in Pandemic," which appeared in the NYU Law Review. The Purcell Principle comes from a 2006 Supreme Court case about what makes an appropriate timeline for changing election laws. The principle wasn't clear to begin with, and has only gotten more confusing in litigation surrounding the 2020 election. Will we see it continue to play out in this year's...

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    Kate, Leah, and Melissa convene a panel to persuade you that the fight for progressive causes has to include state courts and state constitutions. To get the lay of the land and identify the challenges ahead, they welcome four guests: Miriam Seifter of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Jessica Bulman-Pozen of Columbia Law School, Daniel Nichanian of Bolts, and Alicia Bannon of the Brennan Center.

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