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Strict Scrutiny

Crooked Media

News, Society & Culture, Philosophy, Government, Supreme Court

4.8 • 3.5K Ratings


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.

287 Episodes

Florida Becomes a Battleground for Reproductive Rights

Kate and Leah break down the latest court news with Errin Haines, Editor-at-Large for The 19th and host of The Amendment, including developments in abortion access in Florida and the discourse around whether Justice Sotomayor should retire. Then, Jill Habig of the Public Rights Project and Tyler Yarbro from the Tennessee Freedom Circle join Melissa, Kate, and Leah to talk about the latest conservative effort to control the courts: judicial gerrymandering.

Transcribed - Published: 8 April 2024

The Absurd Fiction of the Mifepristone Case

Melissa, Kate, and Leah recap the oral arguments in the case challenging the FDA's approval of mifepristone, one of the drugs used in medication abortion. They also recap arguments in cases about the Armed Career Criminal Act and Indian Health Services, and give some updates on cases they're watching in the lower courts, ranging from immigration, to guns, to Title IX.

Transcribed - Published: 1 April 2024

The Supreme Court Abortion Pill Case

Leah, Melissa, and Kate give a quick take on the bottom line from the oral arguments in the medication abortion case that is currently unraveling in the Supreme Court.

Transcribed - Published: 26 March 2024

Texas, Immigration, and Easily Avoidable Chaos

Steve Vladeck joins Kate and Leah for the play-by-play of what happened with SB4, Texas's restrictive and extreme anti-immigration law that wound up on the U.S. Supreme Court's shadow docket. Kate and Leah also recap the oral arguments in cases about the First Amendment and social media, the NRA, and the types of evidence allowed in trials.

Transcribed - Published: 25 March 2024

Welcome to Conservative Grievance Week

The Supreme Court will hear arguments this week on two First Amendment cases that ask whether the REAL victims of government coercion today are… conservatives with fringe views! Leah, Melissa, and Kate preview those cases, along with the mifepristone case the Court will hear next week. Plus, they do a deep dive on how SCOTUS uses the shadow docket to clear the way for executions.

Transcribed - Published: 18 March 2024

The TLDR of Trump's Indictments

Our very own Melissa Murray has a new book out with co-author Andrew Weissmann-- The Trump Indictments: The Historic Charging Documents with Commentary-- and it was an instant New York Times bestseller. Melissa and Andrew talk with Kate and Leah about the book and what they hope readers take from it.

Transcribed - Published: 11 March 2024

SCOTUS Restores Trump to the Colorado Ballot, Unanimously (Kind Of)

The Supreme Court released its opinion in Trump v. Anderson, saying Colorado and other states can't disqualify Trump from the ballot under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. Kate, Melissa, and Leah break down the (heinous) reasoning and what it means going forward.

Transcribed - Published: 5 March 2024

Content Moderation, Machine Guns, and Trump's Trial Calendar

Leah and Kate analyze the ramifications of the Supreme Court agreeing to hear Trump's immunity case... seven whole weeks from now. They also recap the arguments in a case about whether the federal government can ban bump stocks, a device that turns a semi-automatic rifle into, essentially, a machine gun. Plus, evelyn douek joins the pod to recap arguments in a case about whether social media content moderation is censorship and therefore violates the First Amendment.

Transcribed - Published: 4 March 2024

The Alabama Supreme Court Embraces Fetal Personhood

Looks like we have to add a new segment to the show: Fetal Personhood Watch. Leah, Melissa, and Kate break down the decision from the Alabama Supreme Court that ruled frozen embryos used in IVF treatment are "extrauterine children." They also recap the oral arguments the US Supreme Court heard last week, and hear from Sherrilyn Ifill about her work on the 14th Amendment.

Transcribed - Published: 26 February 2024

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly From State Courts

Kate, Melissa, and Leah preview the cases the Supreme Court will hear this week, explain the latest news in the Trump criminal cases, and survey the significant decisions happening in lower courts.

Transcribed - Published: 19 February 2024

SCOTUS Has Their Own Theories About Trump’s Eligibility

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case about whether Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment disqualifies Donald Trump from appearing on the presidential ballot or holding the office of the presidency because of his role in January 6th. Melissa, Kate, and Leah break down the arguments and what it will mean if the Supreme Court reverses the Colorado Supreme Court's decision.

Transcribed - Published: 12 February 2024

Why Did Trump Get Denied Immunity?

This morning, the US Court of Appeals for the DC circuit ruled that Donald Trump doesn't have immunity in the D.C. election interference case. Kate, Melissa, and Leah break down the D.C. Circuit's decision, Trump's arguments and whether or not it was all worth the wait.

Transcribed - Published: 7 February 2024

Does the Constitution Disqualify Trump from Presidency?

This week the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case about whether Donald Trump is eligible to run for president, or whether he's disqualified from doing so by a provision of the 14th Amendment that prevents individuals from holding public office if they've engaged in insurrection.

Transcribed - Published: 5 February 2024

E. Jean Carroll and Robbie Kaplan on Trump's "Defamation Rampage"

E. Jean Carroll and attorney Robbie Kaplan join us to share the process and aftermath of Carroll's defamation lawsuit against Donald Trump-- in which a jury just awarded her $83.3 million.

Transcribed - Published: 2 February 2024

Who Has Final Authority At The Border?

Kate, Melissa, and Leah break down the legal fight in Texas at the U.S.-Mexico border, and the Supreme Court's take on it all. Plus, Melissa and Kate do a deep dive on another outlandish era in the Supreme Court's history with Cliff Sloan, author of The Court At War.

Transcribed - Published: 29 January 2024


Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a pair of cases that threaten to topple four decades of precedent about federal agencies' authority to interpret statutes.

Transcribed - Published: 22 January 2024

The Legality of Presidents Doing Whatever They Want

Melissa, Kate, and Leah recap oral arguments in cases about the No Fly List, the confrontation clause, and what qualifies as a government taking.

Transcribed - Published: 15 January 2024

Trump's Eligibility, Cash for Clarence, and a Meditation for 2024

We're only one week into 2024, and there's so much court news to catch up on!

Transcribed - Published: 8 January 2024

New Year, Same Court

To start the new year off right, Jonathan Van Ness joins Kate, Leah, and Melissa to suggest some resolutions for the justices of the Supreme Court.

Transcribed - Published: 1 January 2024

Behind the Scenes of Overturning Roe v. Wade

Leah, Kate, and Melissa talk with Jodi Kantor about her New York Times reporting with Adam Liptak, about some of the drama that happened at the Supreme Court as the majority sought to overturn Roe. Plus, updates on grants, argument recaps from Wisconsin, and our annual edition of our favorite things!

Transcribed - Published: 18 December 2023

Fake Cases, Fake Facts, Real Implications

Melissa, Kate, and Leah recap arguments in a big tax case, Moore v. United States, and a case involving Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family. Plus, we have a breaking update on an abortion-related case out of Texas.

Transcribed - Published: 11 December 2023

Taking a Hatchet to Government Agencies

Leah, Melissa, and Kate recap the arguments in the hugely important administrative law case, SEC v. Jarkesy. Plus, they welcome two former clerks to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to discuss her life and legacy.

Transcribed - Published: 4 December 2023

A Deregulatory Sh*t Show Waiting to Happen

Kate, Melissa, and Leah preview the cases the Supreme Court will hear in December, and US Representative Ro Khanna stops by to chat about SCOTUS ethics reform.

Transcribed - Published: 27 November 2023

A Code of Misconduct

Melissa, Leah, and Kate analyze the Supreme Court's newly released code of ethics, and assess the effects of abortion bans in Texas and Tennessee.

Transcribed - Published: 20 November 2023

The Supreme Court's Second Amendment Mess

Kate, Melissa, and Leah recap the arguments in United States v. Rahimi, the case about the constitutionality of gun regulations, featuring diss tracks by KBJ.

Transcribed - Published: 13 November 2023

Doing Government on Twitter

Melissa, Leah, and Kate recap cases the Supreme Court heard last week about whether government officials can block people on social media.

Transcribed - Published: 6 November 2023

Trump's Legal Defense is Dumb AF

Leah, Melissa, and Kate get up to date on the various cases pending against former President Trump. Plus, they preview the First Amendment cases coming before the Supreme Court this week.

Transcribed - Published: 30 October 2023

Texas is a Magic 8 Ball for the Country

ProPublica's Andrea Bernstein joins Kate and Leah to talk about the new investigative podcast, "We Don't Talk About Leonard." Then, Melissa, Kate, and Leah are live from the University of Texas to talk about all the special things the state brings to the federal judiciary.

Transcribed - Published: 23 October 2023

Big BROTUS Energy

Melissa, Kate, and Leah recap the oral arguments the Supreme Court heard last week, including a big one about voting rights and redistricting (Alexander v. South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP).

Transcribed - Published: 16 October 2023

Not Especially Judicious

Kate, Melissa, and Leah recap oral arguments in the cases the Supreme Court heard last week.

Transcribed - Published: 9 October 2023

What Fresh Hell Will This Supreme Court Term Bring?

It's the start of a new Supreme Court term... and the start of Strict Scrutiny's fifth season! While the cases ahead may seem technical and boring, they're actually quite significant. Melissa, Kate, and Leah preview the first oral arguments the Court will hear in October Term 2023.

Transcribed - Published: 2 October 2023

Will the Government (as we know it) Still Be Constitutional?

Do you feel that chill in the air? It’s almost the first Monday of October and that means a new SCOTUS term! You may still be recovering from the last one (don’t worry, we are too) but Melissa, Kate and Leah talk about some themes that we can expect this term like the crazy cases coming out of the Fifth Circuit and whether government (as we know it) is constitutional. They also go through the justices’ latest questionable, and in some cases egregious (Justice Thomas, we’re looking at you) ethical lapses. So pour yourself a Ginni Tonic or Hot Ginni Toddy now that it’s fall, and settle in for this week’s live show from the Texas Tribune Festival.

Transcribed - Published: 25 September 2023

Lights, Camera, SCOTUS!

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.

Transcribed - Published: 18 September 2023

KBJ's Rookie Year

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.

Transcribed - Published: 11 September 2023

After Affirmative Action

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 diversity in hiring clerks.

Transcribed - Published: 4 September 2023

Can These Courts Be Reformed?

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.

Transcribed - Published: 28 August 2023

The Aesthetic Enjoyment of Other People’s Uteruses

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.

Transcribed - Published: 21 August 2023

The Rise and Fall of the Voting Rights Act

Ari Berman, author of Give Us the Ballot, joins Leah and Kate to track the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the challenges against it over the decades, and the Supreme Court's dismantling of it since its 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder.

Transcribed - Published: 14 August 2023

The Dobbs Decision Hasn't Aged Well

Leah, Kate, and Melissa assemble a star-studded cast to do dramatic readings of last year's opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade.

Transcribed - Published: 7 August 2023

Trump Indicted Again Again

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.

Transcribed - Published: 2 August 2023

America's First Civil Rights Movement

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.

Transcribed - Published: 31 July 2023

BONUS: #WITHpod & Strict Scrutiny Crossover

Leah, Kate, and Melissa join MSNBC's Chris Hayes (aka Mr. Kate Shaw) to fully process the drama of the last Supreme Court term.

Transcribed - Published: 26 July 2023

Shining Light on the Shadow Docket

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.

Transcribed - Published: 24 July 2023

Clarence Thomas's America

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.

Transcribed - Published: 17 July 2023

How the Federalist Society Took Over

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.

Transcribed - Published: 10 July 2023

What else can the Supreme Court get away with?

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.

Transcribed - Published: 3 July 2023

Student Debt Relief Bad, Bigotry Good

The Supreme Court ended its term today with a double whammy, issuing opinions in the 303 Creative case and the student debt relief cases.

Transcribed - Published: 30 June 2023

The End of Affirmative Action

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.

Transcribed - Published: 29 June 2023

Is ISL dead? IDK.

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.

Transcribed - Published: 27 June 2023

A Fear of Too Much Justice

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.

Transcribed - Published: 26 June 2023

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