“Quick, name a sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justice.” My husband somewhat quickly came up with four when I sprung that on him. I was impressed. According to my new favorite podcast, “More Perfect,” 66% of Americans cannot name one of the nine (currently eight) sitting Justices. We may remember the nominees for a time, but once confirmed, the justices fade from memory and cease to be household names.
But is this surprising? No. What could be less interesting than a panel of highly academic and inaccessible lawyers issuing lengthy written legal opinions on Constitutional issues? Even lawyers appreciate media legal correspondents (thanks, Nina Totenberg) and easy-to-digest blogs (check out SCOTUS and How Appealing) that decipher and summarize the Court’s decisions and bring them down to earth.
Other than often-cited decisions like Roe v. Wade, Gore v. Bush and Brown v. Board of Education, many Supreme Court decisions don’t appear to impact how we go about life. That being said, the high court’s decisions, even when they involve narrow legal or technical issues, often change the course of American history. In addition, the dissenting views of the Justices (the minority opinion) can have a huge impact by signaling how the Court might rule in the future as the court’s liberal-conservative balance of power shifts over time.
This is why I like “More Perfect.” Using entertaining storytelling, the podcast makes you appreciate that the Court’s decisions do affect ordinary people. The podcast explores the stories behind the lawsuits — the litigants, the lawyers and the reason the cases made it all the way through our court system. The human element is fascinating. “More perfect” is a truly perfect way to engage lawyers and nonlawyers in exploring the most important legal cases of our time.
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