Today in Supreme Court History

I have now posted 366 installments of “Today in Supreme Court History,” one for each day of the past year (including February 29). Finding something SCOTUS-related for every day of the calendar was complicated.

There were some easy dates to find:

  • Dates on which famous Supreme Court cases were argued and decided.
  • Dates on which the Justices were born, confirmed, took the oath, resigned, or died.
  • Dates on which Presidents nominated a Justice to the Supreme Court.

Those dates filled up about half of the calendar. But there were huge gaps–especially over the summer, when the Court and the Senate are usually not in session.

Next, I moved to more creative Supreme Court connections: I searched the Supreme Court cases database on Westlaw for specific dates, like “September 6” or “July 9.” Then I went through hundreds of entries to find specific facts in a case that referenced that date. I tried to only include cases that were well-known. Even with this approach, I still had dozens of empty date.

Next, I got even more resourceful. I looked through the chronology of the Constitutional Convention, which stretched through the summer of 1787, as well as the subsequent ratification process. I also referenced the publication date of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers. I also added dates from the ratification process of the twenty-seven amendments. Admittedly, these events are more tangentially related to the Supreme Court. Yet, I still had some blanks.

Next, I looked at the dates of birth, death, and inauguration of the Presidents. Then I referenced the Justices that President would ultimately appoint to the Supreme Court.

Finally, I had about a dozen or so slots left. I simply added fun facts about American history that bear no real relationship to the Supreme Court. I welcome any suggestions of dates to add.

I have become fond of this feature, and received some favorable feedback. I will restart it tomorrow. On October 7, 1982, I.N.S. v. Chadha was argued.


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