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January 26, 2007

Press Contact: Kirston Fortune, Assistant Dean for Communications, (512) 471.7330 or

UT Law Professors Powe, Forbath, Weinberg and Young Featured in PBS Supreme Court Series

AUSTIN, Texas—Four professors at The University of Texas School of Law provide analysis and anecdotes in a major television series about the history of the U.S. Supreme Court that airs Jan. 31 and Feb. 7 on PBS from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. CST.  

No other institution had as many experts featured in “The Supreme Court,” which has been described as the first major television series to trace the story and influence of America’s highest court. The series is a major PBS presentation and was produced by Thirteen/WNET New York.

The UT Law professors interviewed for the series are Lucas A. Powe Jr., William Forbath, Louise Weinberg and Ernest Young.  All are nationally-recognized experts in constitutional law and two of the four – Powe and Young – clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justices. Powe is currently writing a book, The Supreme Court in American History, for publication in 2008 by Harvard University Press.

Over four hours, the series will trace the Court's evolution from its establishment to the present day. It will do so by focusing on the temperament and constitutional vision of key Justices and the key cases throughout our history. The chronicle will explore the continuing struggle over how the Court defines its role and manifests its powers.

“The Supreme Court” is divided into four, one-hour programs. Powe appears in all four episodes of the series with Forbath appearing in episode three, Weinberg in episodes one and two, and Young in episodes one and four.

“PBS has done a superb job of researching the Court and it was nice to be one of the four people selected to appear in each episode,” said Powe, who clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas before joining the UT Law faculty in 1971. The latest issue of American History magazine reviews the PBS series and singles out Powe, along with two other academics, as “superbly well-spoken historians who bring energy and meaning to the narrative.”

Weinberg noted, “Anything that brings a little of our constitutional history alive is to be lauded. In the first two segments, I hope the viewer can get a sense of the great nation-building decisions the Court handed down in that earlier period.”

In the PBS series, Forbath said, “What the court decides today, while obviously gripping and part of our culture wars, is chicken feed compared to what the court presided over in the 1890s. The court had in its hands the future of industrial America. Sober, thoughtful Americans, not hysterical people, thought the nation was at the brink of class war.”  Forbath, who has written widely about the ways reform movements have shaped constitutional law, describes the Court’s encounters with labor organizations and social reformers in the early 20th century and explains the outlooks of “great dissenters” like Justices Holmes and Brandeis.

In Austin, Texas, the PBS series will be shown on KLRU, Channel 18. For more information on the series go to  

About Powe, Forbath, Weinberg and Young

Lucas A. Powe Jr., the Anne Green Regents Chair in Law and
Professor of Government, is thecountry's foremost expert on the First Amendment and the broadcast media. Professor Powe also teaches and writes about the Supreme Court's place in American society. His numerous publications and books include The Warren Court and American Politics (Harvard, 2000).

William E Forbath, the Lloyd M. Bentsen Chair in Law and Professor of History, is among the nation's leading legal and constitutional historians. He is the author of Law and the Shaping of the American Labor Movement (Harvard, 1991), and about 60 articles, book chapters, and essays on legal and constitutional history and theory. Forbath also has a new book coming out in 2008 from Harvard University Press called Reclaiming the Constitution. 

Louise Weinberg, the William B. Bates Chair for the Administration of Justice at the School of Law, teaches constitutional law and federal courts. Her recent work in constitutional law includes “Dred Scott and the Crisis of 1860” (Symposium, Chicago-Kent Law Review forthcoming 2007); “Our Marbury” (Virginia Law Review 2003); and “When Courts Decide Elections: The Constitutionality of Bush v. Gore” (Symposium, Boston University Law Review 2002). Weinberg is also the author of Federal Courts: Judicial Federalism and Judicial Power (1994).

Ernest Young holds the Charles Alan Wright Chair in Federal Courts Law. He teaches constitutional law, foreign affairs and the Constitution, and federal courts. After law school, he served as a law clerk to Judge Michael Boudin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (1993-94) and to Justice David Souter of the U.S. Supreme Court (1995-96). He is one of the nation’s leading authorities on the constitutional law of federalism.

Note to Editors: To download high resolution photographs of these professors go to faculty profiles on the Law School web site at and click on a professor’s name.

Related Links:
About Lucas A. Powe Jr.:
About William Forbath:
About Louise Weinberg:
About Ernest Young: