The Supreme Court is ready for its close-up

Political Theater, episode 95

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her fellow Supreme Court justices are political issues themselves, a topic for discussion in the latest Political Theater podcast. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Hot topics? The Supreme Court’s got ’em this term. LGBTQ rights. Guns. Immigration. Abortion. 

The first Monday in October marks the start of the high court’s term each year, providing the titles of a 1981 Walter Matthau-Jill Clayburgh feature film — “First Monday in October” — and a short-lived CBS television drama with James Garner and Joe Mantegna, “First Monday.”

The justices, from left to right, go out of their way to downplay any talk of division in their ranks, be it personal or ideological. This, despite a series of 5-4 decisions that can drastically alter American society and that pretty much half the population will hate either way. 

Several of the court’s biggest decisions will come down as the 2020 presidential race enters the home stretch. The justices are already a big part of the political landscape. Consider how the confirmation hearing for Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh fired up partisans on both sides last year. 

And the court’s cultural reach is also spreading. How else to explain Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s emergence as a film star (“RBG” and “On the Basis of Sex”) and the Notorious RBG meme queen? 

Todd Ruger, CQ Roll Call’s legal affairs correspondent and senior writer, and author of “American Justice 2018, The Shifting Supreme Court,” discusses in the latest Political Theater podcast the politics surrounding the justices, the upcoming docket and how the public perception of the court has evolved.

Show notes: 

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