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Profiles and Portraits of Supreme Court Justices

Profiles of Supreme Court Justices

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Time & Location









This is an 11-week virtual class using the Zoom platform.  

Mondays: September 12, 19, 26; October 3, 10, 17, 24; November 1, 7, 14, 21

6:00 - 8:00 pm CDT

This course opens a window into the work of the United States Supreme Court. We citizens read the Court’s opinions and analyze its reasoning, but its conclusions, and thus the development of constitutional law, are shaped as well by factors beyond our immediate grasp. In this course, we discuss these factors through profiles and portraits of various Justices across the decades of American history. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes rejected the myth that the Justices are impersonal oracles and dispassionate decision makers. He regarded them, rather, as “nine scorpions in a bottle,” who bring their experiences and philosophies to their work on the bench. In an effort to more fully capture the work of the Court, we will profile some of the most important and interesting men and women who have served on the Court, with a focus on their judicial philosophies, personalities and temperament, as well as their character, friendships and rivalries.

Dr. David Gray Adler is President of The Alturas Institute, a non-profit organization created to promote the Constitution, gender equality, and civic education. A recipient of teaching, writing and civic awards, Adler has lectured nationally and internationally, and published widely, on the Constitution, presidential power and the Bill of Rights. He is the author of six books, including, most recently, The War Power in an Age of Terrorism, as well as more than 100 scholarly articles in the leading journals of his field. He is currently writing a book on the landmark Supreme Court decision in Reed v. Reed, which had its origins in Idaho and transformed the law for American women. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will write the foreword to the book, the research and writing of which is supported by a research fellowship from the Idaho Humanities Council.


Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this {article, book, exhibition, film, program, database, report, Web resource}, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or Humanities North Dakota.

However, in an increasingly polarized world, we at Humanities North Dakota believe that being open-minded is necessary to thinking critically and rationally.

Therefore, our programs and classes reflect our own open-mindedness in the inquiry, seeking, and acquiring of scholars to speak at our events and teach classes for our Public University.

To that end, we encourage our participants to join us in stepping outside our comfort zones and considering other perspectives and ideas by being open-minded while attending HND events featuring scholars who hold a variety of opinions, some being opposite of our own held beliefs.

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