Democracy Works

The Supreme Court's politics and power

Episode Summary

The Supreme Court has always been political, despite what recent history may lead us to believe. However, things may feel different now because the Court is more powerful now. Historian Rachel Shelden takes us on a trip back to the Civil War era and we discuss the lessons from that era the might apply today.

Episode Notes

A lot of people are thinking about the Civil War era these days, whether it's asking questions about whether we're in a second civil war now, or thinking about what happened during the election of 1876. In addition to our discussion of the Supreme Court, we talk about both of these things with Rachel Shelden, associate professor of history at Penn State and director of the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center.

If it sounds like we covered a lot in this episode, it's because we did. Like any good historian, Shelden does not use her knowledge of history predict the future, but she does offer some very useful insights for how the past can help all of us frame and interpret what's happening now.

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The perfect storm for election disaster

A brief history of "people power"

Additional Information

Shelden's article in the Washington Post

Stanford's Jonathan Gienapp on originalism and history

Penn State Richards Civil War Era Center