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April 1, 2010

Colloquium on Professor Scot Powe’s recent book on the history of the United States Supreme Court, April 2, 2010

A colloquium honoring and discussing University of Texas School of Law Professor Lucas A. “Scot” Powe’s  most recent book on the history of the United States Supreme Court will be held Friday, April 2, 2010, in the Law School’s faculty lounge. The event is free and open to the public and the university community.

Powe’s book, The Supreme Court and the American Elite 1789-2008, was published by Harvard University Press in 2009. The colloquium will begin with a lunch in the faculty lounge at 11:30 a.m. Leading constitutional law scholars Jack Balkin (Yale Law School) and Mark Graber (University of Maryland School of Law) will present short discussions of Powe’s book beginning around 11:50 a.m. This will be followed by a general discussion of the book until 1:30 p.m., and two 75-minute “seminars” on recent works by Balkin and Graber.

Balkin’s paper on the Commerce Clause will be part of his forthcoming book on “the originalism of text and principle.”   Graber’s essay—on the failed attempt during the Jacksonian presidency to strip the Supreme Court of its power to review state court judgments under Section 25 of the Judiciary Act of 1789—has recently been published in the Oregon Law Review.

UT Law Professor Willy Forbath will present Balkin’s paper prior to the general discussion, and Powe will do the same for Graber’s paper. Balkin’s seminar will run from 2:00 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. and Graber’s from 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. 

About Lucas A. “Scot” Powe Jr.:

Powe, who clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas in 1970–1971, is a leading historian of the Supreme Court and a First Amendment scholar.

In his latest book, Powe provides a revealing look at the history of the Court and the close ties between its decisions and the nation’s politics at the time they were made. He renders fresh judgments on key decisions and shows the ways in which virtually every major Supreme Court ruling suited the wishes of the most powerful politicians of the time.

The story begins with the creation of the Constitution and ends with the June 2008 decisions on the rights of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. The history reflects a changing Court, from the country’s early struggles over commerce and transport, to the “justifications” of slavery before the Civil War, to a post-New Deal interest in ending segregation, controlling criminal procedure, and addressing questions arising from the Cold War.

Powe has written three other books, including The Warren Court and American Politics, and was a principal commentator on 2007’s four-part PBS series The Supreme Court. Powe joined the Law School faculty in 1971.

Related Links:

The Supreme Court and the American Elite, 1789–2008 discussed on ShelfLife@Texas

Professor Scot Powe discusses, signs new book about history of Supreme Court, May 4, 2009

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