Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Joint RSNSW-Law Society of NSW Public Lecture

Linda Greenhouse “The US Supreme Court:
A Rogue Court in a Fragile Democracy”

Linda Greenhouse

Senior Research Scholar, Yale Law School
President, American Philosophical Society

Date: Monday, 14 November 2022, 9.00 am  AEST
Venue: Webinar
Entry:  No charge
All are welcome

A joint public lecture presented by the Royal Society of NSW and the Law Society of NSW.

Summary: The behaviour of the U.S. Supreme Court in its most recent term was deeply unsettling at a time when the country’s social and political fabric was already under stress. Although two-thirds of the American public wanted to retain a constitutional right to abortion, at least under some circumstances, a five-member majority of the nine-member court proceeded to overturn Roe v. Wade with the conclusory and arrogant declaration that the 49-year-old precedent was “egregiously wrong from the beginning.” Within weeks, abortion became illegal or functionally unavailable in half the 50 states. Abortion refugees began travelling great distances at great expense for the reproductive health care that had been theirs by right until the 24th of June. And in another June decision, the court interpreted the constitutional provision dealing with guns (the Second Amendment) in a manner that ties the hands of states and localities trying to keep guns off the streets at a time of repeated multi-fatality rampages that have shocked the country and the world.

This talk will examine how the court came to diverge so sharply from the will of the people and will explore the consequences for the Supreme Court as an institution and for American democracy.

Linda Greenhouse is a senior research scholar in law at Yale Law School, where she has taught since 2009. For the previous thirty years, she was the Supreme Court correspondent for The New York Times and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for her coverage of the Court.

She is a graduate of Radcliffe College (Harvard) and earned a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale Law School. In her extracurricular life, she has served on a number of nonprofit boards, including the Harvard Board of Overseers and the National Senate of Phi Beta Kappa. She is currently president of the American Philosophical Society, the country’s oldest learned society, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743. She is the author of six books, including Becoming Justice Blackmun, a biography of the Supreme Court Justice; The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction; and a memoir, Just a Journalist. Justice on the Brink: The Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Rise of Amy Coney Barrett, and Twelve Months that Transformed the Supreme Court was published by Random House in November 2021.

She and her husband, Eugene Fidell, live in New Haven and Stockbridge. Their daughter, Hannah Fidell, is a film director and writer in Los Angeles.

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