SIR2017 banner web 2

2017 Scholar: Linda Greenhouse

Tuesday, July 25 – Thursday, July 27
8:30 - 10:15 AM at Smith Wilkes Hall


Overarching theme:

The Supreme Court has been front and center in the news this year. This course will go behind the news to consider the Court from a different perspective. We will examine the Court’s role in setting the nation’s legal—and inevitably, its political—agenda. We’ll explore how the Justices acquire the information they need to decide complex cases. And finally, we will look at the confirmation process to see whether it is broken beyond repair.

Suggested reading for general background:
The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction, Linda Greenhouse, Oxford University Press (2012)


Day 1: 

The Court's Agenda—and ours—How do the Justices select 70 cases a year from the 8,000 appeals that reach them? The Supreme Court’s agenda-setting function is the most under-appreciated, least transparent aspect of the Court’s work. We will turn a lens on the Roberts Court to better understand the significance of “deciding what to decide.”

Suggested reading:
Is It Important to be Important: Evaluating the Supreme Court’s Case-Selection Process, Frederick Schauer, Yale Law Journal (2009)


Day 2:

Voices at the Court—How do the Justices acquire the information they need? We will tune in to the voices that reach the Court through briefs and oral arguments. We’ll examine the role of the elite Supreme Court bar and of the increasing number of “friends of the court” that some believe have too much leeway to base arguments on unproven facts.

Suggested reading:
The Echo Chamber, Joan Biskupic, Reuters Special Report (December 2014)


Day 3:

The confirmation process—Is it irretrievably broken? What might a rational nomination and confirmation process look like, and how did we stray so far into the political wilderness? We will consider what changes, if any, might get the process on a different track.

Suggested reading:
Questioning Justice: Law and Politics in Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings, Robert Post and Reva Siegel, Yale Law Journal (2006)

About the Facilitator

LindaGreenhouse webLinda Greenhouse is the Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law and Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence at Yale Law School. From 1978 to 2008, she was the Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times and currently writes a bi-weekly op-ed column for the Times as a contributing writer.

She received several major journalism awards during a 40-year career at the Times, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1998 and the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2004. In 2002, the American Political Science Association gave her its Carey McWilliams Award for “a major journalistic contribution to our understanding of politics.”

Greenhouse is one of two non-lawyers elected to honorary membership in the American Law Institute, which in 2002 awarded her its Henry Friendly Medal. She serves on the council of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and on the national senate of Phi Beta Kappa. This year, she assumed the presidency of the American Philosophical Society, the first woman to head the country’s oldest learned society since its founding by Benjamin Franklin 274 years ago.

Her publications include Becoming Justice Blackmun (2005); Before Roe v. Wade: Voices that Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court's Ruling (with Reva B. Siegel, 2010); The U.S. Supreme Court, A Very Short Introduction (2012); and The Burger Court and the Rise of the Judicial Right (with Michael J. Graetz, 2016). A memoir, Just a Journalist, will be published in fall 2017 by Harvard University Press.

Greenhouse is a graduate of Radcliffe College (Harvard), and earned a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale Law School, which she attended on a Ford Foundation fellowship.