Today in Supreme Court History

Today in Supreme Court History


I have now posted 366 installments of "Today in Supreme Court History," one for each day of the past year (including February 29). Finding something SCOTUS-related for every day of the calendar was complicated.

There were some easy dates to find:

  • Dates on which famous Supreme Court cases were argued and decided.
  • Dates on which the Justices were born, confirmed, took the oath, resigned, or died.
  • Dates on which Presidents nominated a Justice to the Supreme Court.

Those dates filled up about half of the calendar. But there were huge gaps--especially over the summer, when the Court and the Senate are usually not in session.

Next, I moved to more creative Supreme Court connections: I searched the Supreme Court cases database on Westlaw for specific dates, like "September 6" or "July 9." Then I went through hundreds of entries to find specific facts in a case that referenced that date. I tried to only include cases that were well-known. Even with this approach, I still had dozens of empty date.

Next, I got even more resourceful. I looked through the chronology of the Constitutional Convention, which stretched through the summer of 1787, as well as the subsequent ratification process. I also referenced the publication date of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers. I also added dates from the ratification process of the twenty-seven amendments. Admittedly, these events are more tangentially related to the Supreme Court. Yet, I still had some blanks.

Next, I looked at the dates of birth, death, and inauguration of the Presidents. Then I referenced the Justices that President would ultimately appoint to the Supreme Court.

Finally, I had about a dozen or so slots left. I simply added fun facts about American history that bear no real relationship to the Supreme Court. I welcome any suggestions of dates to add.

I have become fond of this feature, and received some favorable feedback. I will restart it tomorrow. On October 7, 1982, I.N.S. v. Chadha was argued.

NEXT: Today in Supreme Court History: October 6, 2010

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  1. "Finally, I had about a dozen or so slots left. I simply added fun facts about American history that bear no real relationship to the Supreme Court."

    Oh, good, you do realize that. I'd wondered.

    Maybe dates in fictional Supreme court history? Like the ruling in Bicentennial Man granting the robot his freedom?

  2. You could add stuff about the Supreme Court itself (i.e. the building's history), incidents at the Supreme Court (e.g. visitors being expelled), rules and procedures, etc.

  3. How about for us non-lawyers, a brief line relating the relevance of the “fact”? So many of these were of the form “X v Y was decided”. Some clarification as to why this was important would help.

    1. Yes! Most of these mean nothing to me, and the links are almost useless to us IANAL readers. The few I do follow up on, I use google or duck-duck-go. One or two lines would do, if geared to IANAL types.

    2. I think you're supposed to buy his book for that. Perhaps Prof. Blackman can devote some more time and energy into promoting it.

  4. Maybe you need to find a hobby......

  5. It seems you would have many overlapping events on the same date, but once a few dozen (or hundred) years pass from that date, you may have enough material to keep it going for 1-2 more years. (We are such a young nation). Another angle to look at are key dates surrounding significant lower court cases that the Court either decided later or declined to review, and perhaps there is sufficient documentation on why the court declined to do so.

  6. Considering all the times Josh got the date wrong, or the facts wrong, or demonstrated a superficial or even incorrect understanding of what he was noting . . .

    1. Easy to criticize; difficult to do.

      So when are you going to try to improve on the efforts?

      1. Difficult? Perhaps dullards, or the uneducated, perceive some difficulty.

        1. It must be a royal bitch being so perfect all the time.

          1. One need not be perfect to recognize the issue in this context. Mere competence suffices.

      2. I give him props for the A/V presentation, which probably took up most of the time, though I don't know if he personally did it or someone did it for him.

        But the few times I've looked into his posts, it took me only a few minutes to find the mistake, even though I graduated Law School 30 years ago and don't have any reason to look at Con Law in my regular practice. It follows that, aside from the A/V workup, I could do my own post in not much more time than that.

  7. Professor Blackman...keep posting these. I learn stuff every week. Nevermind the naysayers.

  8. How about 'I filled up a whole year, I can stop now'? The only thing I skipped past faster in the Volokh feed is Stewart Baker's podcast recaps.

  9. I have become fond of this feature, and received some favorable feedback.

    I realize there are some pretty credulous folks in these parts, but surely you don't actually expect anyone to swallow this bullshit?

  10. August 5, 1943: the trial court in U.S. v. South-Eastern Underwriters Ass'n ruled that the business of insurance was not commerce, and dismissed the indictment. This followed the reasoning of Paul v. Virginia from like 1868. This also created the landmark commerce clause opinion at 322 U.S. 533, which then spurred Congressional action the following year to pass McCarran-Ferguson, which basically carved out insurance from federal regulation. This remains a salient, potentially hot topic today because of certain requirements under the ACA.

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