May it Please the Court
Summary: Did you know that a lot of the most famous landmark Supreme Court cases were all decided because of one sentence? From contraception laws to interracial marriage to abortion to same-sex marriage, one sentence in the Constitution has proven responsible for some pivotal yet controversial moments in American history. That sentence is in the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment and over the course of ten episodes, Alex Akhavan narrates the thrilling events that defined some of the biggest moments in the Supreme Court's history.
In the season finale of May It Please The Court, the justices decide the issue of same-sex marriage. In 2015, twelve years after the Court's landmark decision that had invalidated anti-sodomy laws, Justice Anthony Kennedy is once again the tiebreaker needed to expand the scope of the 14th amendment's fundamental right to privacy...one more time.
It's a new millennium, and gay rights advocates take another stab at invalidating anti-sodomy laws in the landmark case of Lawrence v. Texas. The mainstream public's views on homosexuality have evolved considerably as the legal world waits to find out whether Justice Anthony Kennedy will be the swing vote needed to legalize homosexual conduct nationwide.
It’s a Roe v. Wade rematch when the Supreme Court hears the case of Planned Parenthood vs. Casey in 1992. As a new split forms among the Court’s conservatives, Sandra Day O’Connor, the country’s first female justice, is the deciding vote to determine the future of abortion rights in the United States.
Substantive due process is now a political issue. Republicans start appointing justices willing to reverse or limit the doctrine responsible for Roe v. Wade. Meanwhile, progressives try to expand interpretations of the 14th amendment to start protecting gay rights.
With substantive due process back in full force, the Supreme Court takes up the issue of abortion and decides its most controversial case in recent history: Roe v. Wade.
Just two years after its historic decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court decides a landmark case about interracial marriage. While the case could have been decided based only on the Equal Protection clause, the Court went further to answer a more fundamental question: can the government stop a person from Loving someone?
After 30 years without a landmark substantive due process case, the clause makes a roaring comeback in the 1960s when civil rights attorneys revive an old legal doctrine. A new liberty is recognized that will shape the modern world, and it starts by protecting access to contraception for married couples.
The Lochner Era continues well into the 1930s. The Supreme Court was as divided as ever and starts to become a problem for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal policies. So FDR comes up with a drastic plan to free himself and the nation from the nine old men and bring the Lochner Era to a dramatic end.
Justice Rufus Peckham gets his chance to make history by writing a new precedent that would dictate American domestic economic policy for a generation. Hear how the arrest of a baker named Joseph Lochner ushered in the infamous era in constitutional history known as the Lochner Era.
Introduction to the Season 1 of May It Please The Court.
In the pilot, Alex Akhavan traces the origins of the Due Process clause starting with the ratification of the 14th amendment and the birth of a legal debate that continues to divide the Supreme Court today. Is the clause only concerned with fair procedures? Or does it also protect fundamental civil liberties? But the liberties they were talking about the late 1800s might not the ones you think!