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.


September 18, 2023 56 mins

On September 22, Showtime and Paramount+ will release the first episode of Deadlocked: How America Shaped the Supreme Court. And if you tune in, you might recognize a few faces and voices. Documentarian Dawn Porter joins Kate, Melissa, and Leah to talk about how the series came to be, and what she learned about the Supreme Court's evolution in the process.

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Being a Supreme Court podcast means we spend much of the year in dystopia. So just this once, let's look at the silver lining that is Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Amir Ali, executive director of the MacArthur Justice Center, joins Melissa, Kate, and Leah to look back on Justice Jackson's first year on the Supreme Court.

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September 4, 2023 46 mins

Juvaria Khan, founder of The Appellate Project, joins Melissa, Kate, and Leah to catch up on the fallout of the Supreme Court's affirmative action decision in June. Then, Melissa talks with Justice Goodwin Liu of Supreme Court of California and Mary Hoopes of Pepperdine's Caruso School of Law about their research on how judges consider diversity when hiring clerks.

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August 28, 2023 74 mins

Melissa, Leah, and Kate invite two guests to zoom out and analyze how the current Supreme Court got to be the way that it is... and what progressives are doing to push back. Michael Waldman, author of The Supermajority: How the Supreme Court Divided America, provides historical context for other times the Supreme Court has challenged the country. And Brian Fallon, co-founder of Demand Justice, reflects on his tenure as Executive Di...

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Easha Anand of Stanford's Supreme Court Litigation Clinic joins Kate, Melissa, and Leah to lay out what SCOTUS has been up to in the world of criminal law. But first, Kate and Leah analyze the Fifth Circuit's opinion in the mifepristone case, and what it means for people seeking abortions across the country.

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It's been 10 years since the Supreme Court started to dismantle the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder. Ari Berman, author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, joins Leah and Kate to track the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the challenges against it over the decades, and the fallout from Shelby County and other voting rights cases.

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August 7, 2023 98 mins

It's been over a year since the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. The majority opinion, concurrences, and joint dissent all made a lot of predictions about life without Roe-- but how accurate were they? Leah, Kate, and Melissa assemble a star-studded cast to do dramatic readings of the opinions and reflect on how they've panned out.

Featuring Jon Lovett ...

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August 2, 2023 36 mins

Former President Donald Trump has been indicted for a third time-- this time in a Washington, DC, case about attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Kate, Melissa, and Leah huddle to break down the charges, the people involved, and what happens next.

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July 31, 2023 76 mins

First things first, Melissa and Leah break down Sam Alito's latest airing of grievances in the Wall Street Journal. Then, Kate joins them for a lesson in actual history from an actual historian. Kate Masur, author of Until Justice Be Done: America's First Civil Rights Movement, from the Revolution to Reconstruction, joins the trio for a conversation about her Pulitzer Prize-nominated book.

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Leah, Kate, and Melissa join MSNBC's Chris Hayes (aka Mr. Kate Shaw) to fully process the drama of the last Supreme Court term. It's our second annual crossover with Why Is This Happening?!

Another year, another pretty consequential Supreme Court term. SCOTUS recently ended its term with a number of big decisions including striking down affirmative action and issuing opinions in the 303 Creative case, in which the majority created a...

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July 24, 2023 57 mins

Leah, Kate, and Melissa talk to Steve Vladeck about his new book, The Shadow Docket: How the Supreme Court Uses Stealth Rulings to Amass Power and Undermine the Republic. From abortion bans to immigration restrictions, COVID orders and death penalty cases, the Supreme Court has taken to changing the law in quiet.

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July 17, 2023 59 mins

Joel Anderson, host of Slow Burn: Becoming Justice Thomas, joins Melissa and Kate to analyze the justice's trajectory from his childhood in Georgia to his contentious confirmation hearings. Plus, Joel spills behind-the-scenes tea about reporting the series-- including how he found himself in the living room of Justice Thomas's mother.

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July 10, 2023 46 mins

We're kicking off the Strict Scrutiny Summer Reading List with a wild ride through the history of the Federalist Society. Amanda Hollis-Brusky, author of Ideas with Consequences: The Federalist Society and the Conservative Counterrevolution and Separate But Faithful: The Christian Right's Radical Struggle to Transform Law & Legal Culture, joins Melissa and Leah to guide the journey.

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Melissa, Leah, and Kate recap the last Supreme Court term, as the justices speed off on their summer vacations (in a luxury yacht? on a private jet? in an RV in Walmart parking lot? Who's to say!). They highlight recurring themes throughout the justices' opinions, relive some of the best moments in oral arguments, recap the Court's scandals, and preview the cases that scare them next term.US term. 

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June 30, 2023 49 mins

The Supreme Court ended its term today with a double whammy, issuing opinions in the 303 Creative case and the student debt relief cases. In the former, the majority creates "a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class." And in the latter, the majority invalidate's the Biden administration's student debt relief program because, well, they had feelings about it.

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June 29, 2023 62 mins

Today the Supreme Court delivered its opinion in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, declaring admissions programs that consider race to be in violation of the 14th Amendment. Melissa, Kate, and Leah break down the Chief Justice's opinion, Justice Thomas's galling concurrence, and the brilliant dissents by Justice Jackson and Justice Sotomayor.

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June 27, 2023 54 mins

The Supreme Court handed down its decision in Moore v. Harper today, saying that state legislatures can’t actually make up whatever rules they want around federal elections, without oversight from anyone. But is this a victory for our democracy, or should we still be freaked out? Kate, Leah, and Melissa break down the opinion and the questions it leaves open.

We'll be around all week pushing out emergency episodes as the Supreme Cou...

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June 26, 2023 68 mins

Leah and Kate delve in to the latest chapter of Supreme Court justices going on secret fancy vacations with billionaires, this time starring Samuel Alito. And then it's opinion-palooza, recapping the opinions we got last week while we wait with bated breath for the horrors the last week of the term will bring.

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Last week the Supreme Court made an historic ruling upholding the Indian Child Welfare Act. Rebecca Nagle, host of Crooked Media’s This Land podcast, takes us inside the courtroom in this special bonus episode to break down the decision, how we got here, and what it all means.

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The Supreme Court released its opinion in Haaland vs. Brackeen, a case that challenged the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act. In a surprising 7-2 vote, the Court upheld ICWA. Rebecca Nagle, host of This Land, joins Leah, Kate, and Melissa to unpack the opinion and what it means for indigenous families.

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