Colloquy Downeast Blue Hill Maine

Colloquy Downeast

Spirited Conversations in Great Company

FacilitatorDavid Snow
Date & TimeFridays - January 26, February 2, 9, 16
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
LocationHoward Room, Blue Hill Public Library
Available Spaces15

Since the Civil War the Supreme Court has cycled through long conservative and liberal periods, but nothing quite like the polarization that marks the present Court. If, as seems likely, additional Justice(s) nominated by President Trump are confirmed,  the Court’s shift to the right will probably accelerate and aid  Republican efforts to roll back progressive economic and social laws  and  make it more difficult for the Democrats to enact  progressive laws that will pass constitutional muster if and when they regain power. This is not to suggest that every Justice is an ideologue who invariably follows her political preference in deciding politically charged cases, but these preferences are increasingly clear and well known before appointment and the chance of a Justice  changing her ideological allegiance after confirmation appears slim.  This colloquy will explore the historic influence of the Court on the political process and the role it may play in the future.

David Snow is a former lawyer and federal Judge intrigued by the historic role of the Constitution and the Court in the governance of our country.

▼ Syllabus


The first session

…will focus on the  history of the conservatives’ use of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, the 14th Amendment, and  other constitutional provisions, to  preclude federal and state economic and social legislation until the Great Depression and subsequent decades when progressive Justices reinterpreted these same constitutional provisions to vindicate the New Deal, integration, voting rights, civil rights laws and an expansion of individual rights,

The second session

…will explore the conservative counter revolution that blossomed in the 1980s with the appointment of strong conservative Justices of whom Antonin Scalia was the most famous and influential.  Despite the wishes of some conservatives, there has been no wholesale return to the Constitution of the 19th Century Court, but since the 1980s the Court has sharply limited governmental power to regulate voting rights, control or limit the use of money in elections, regulate firearms and limit integration through affirmative action.

The third session

…will hone in on Roe v. Wade, the effects of repeal and the surprising embrace from the Court and public of gay marriage and LBGT rights, while the hostility to abortion rights, at least in the red states, continues unabated. We will also focus on the Justices’ rationale for deciding hot button political issues with a focus on the success of “originalism” championed by Justice Scalia.

The final session

…will look at issues including gerrymandering, voter suppression and the role of uncontrolled money in democratic elections, the expanding protections for religious expression in the marketplace and the conflict between a conservative President and liberal states or localities on “sanctuary cities” and “reverse discrimination.”  We will also explore what role, if any, the Court might play in protecting democratic institutions and customs against executive authoritarian impulses, if that appears to be a live issue.

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▼ Reading


As you might expect, there are a number of excellent books bearing on the issues we will discuss and we will list some important ones on the website. But our only required reading,  in addition to case and article excerpts to be noted in the Readings  will be The Oath by Jeffrey Toobin.  Although published in 2012 and focused on the clash between President Obama’s and Chief Justice Roberts’ social, economic and political views, it is still a marvelous portrayal of the issues currently facing the Court. This colloquy covers a dynamic evolving subject  so  keep an eye peeled for possible updates to the cases and articles in the Readings.

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▼ Registration


Bookings are not being accepted yet

We will not be accepting registrations for The Supreme Court in a Trump World until November 1, 2017 at 08:00 AM.

Please check back after that date/time to register.

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