Skip to main content
 This program is not active.
Not Found
On Demand

CON21 Constitution Day 2021 — A Panel Discussion on Supreme Court Reform

Total Credits: 1.0

Constitutional Law
Christopher Schmidt |  Nancy Marder
58 Minutes
Audio and Video
Original Program Date:
Sep 17, 2021
Product Type:
On Demand
Access for 365 day(s) after purchase.


Growing numbers of politicians, activists, and scholars have been calling for reforms to the United States Supreme Court.  Not since the 1930s have significant reform proposals gained such prominence in public life; some have even endorsed the idea of "packing" the Court by adding additional seats in an effort to change its ideological balance. Our panel will consider the value of an independent judiciary as balanced against a judiciary that, to some degree, reflects the commitments of the American people. They will discuss the history of Supreme Court reform proposals, both those that were implemented and those that were not as well as reforms currently being considered, what they are designed to achieve and the likelihood of any of these proposals being implemented.

Key topics that will be addressed

  • past Supreme Court reforms--most notably the fluctuating number of justices in the 19th century
  • past proposals for Supreme Court reform—most notably the Court-packing plan of 1937
  • key reform proposals today: Court-packing, jurisdiction limitations, "balanced bench," term limits
  • the political circumstances that gave rise to current calls for Court reform
  • the difficult path to implementing any Court reforms


Christopher Schmidt's Profile

Christopher Schmidt Related seminars and products

Professor of Law; Co-Director of the Institute on the Supreme Court of the United States

Chicago-Kent College of Law

A member of the Chicago-Kent faculty since 2008, Professor Schmidt teaches in the areas of constitutional law, legal history, comparative constitutional law, and sports law. He has written on a variety of topics, including the historical development of the Fourteenth Amendment, the history of Brown v. Board of Education, the Tea Party as a constitutional movement, how Supreme Court Justices communicate with the American people, and the rise of free agency in Major League Baseball. He has published in leading law reviews and peer-review journals, among them Constitutional Commentary, Cornell Law Review, Law and History Review, Northwestern University Law Review, and UCLA Law Review. His article Divided by Law: The Sit-Ins and the Role of the Courts in the Civil Rights Movement won the 2014 Association of American Law Schools' Scholarly Papers Competition and the 2016 American Society for Legal History Surrency Prize.

Professor Schmidt is the author of two books: The Sit-Ins: Protest and Legal Change in the Civil Rights Era (University of Chicago Press, 2018); and Civil Rights in America: A History (Cambridge University Press, 2021). He is currently working on a new book project, a history of the U.S. Supreme Court and its relationship with the American people over the last century.

Professor Schmidt earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School, a Ph.D. in American studies and an M.A. in history from Harvard University, and a B.A. from Dartmouth College. Professor Schmidt is also a research professor at the American Bar Foundation, where he serves as the editor of Law & Social Inquiry, one of the leading peer-reviewed journals in sociolegal studies.

Nancy Marder's Profile

Nancy Marder Related seminars and products

Professor of Law; Director of the Justice John Paul Stevens Jury Center; Co-Director of the Institute for Law and the Humanities

Chicago-Kent College of Law

Professor Marder joined the faculty of Chicago-Kent in the fall of 1999. She has a B.A. (summa cum laude) in English and Afro-American Studies from Yale College; a M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University, where she was a Mellon Fellow; and a J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was an articles editor of the Yale Law Journal.

Prior to beginning her teaching career at the University of Southern California Law School, Professor Marder was a post-doctoral fellow at Yale Law School (1992–93) and a law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court (1990–92). She also clerked for Judge William A. Norris on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (1989–90) and Judge Leonard B. Sand in the Southern District of New York (1988–1989). In 1987–88, Professor Marder was a litigation associate at the New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

Professor Marder's research and writing focus on the jury. She has written about many aspects of the jury, including peremptory challenges, jury instructions, jurors and technology, juror questions, jury nullification, post-verdict interviews of jurors, and jury deliberations. Her articles have appeared in such law reviews as Northwestern University Law Review, Iowa Law Review, Texas Law Review, Southern California Law Review, and Yale Law Journal, and she has organized four symposia in the Chicago-Kent Law Review: "The Jury at a Crossroad: The American Experience," "Secrecy in Litigation," "The 50th Anniversary of 12 Angry Men," and "Comparative Jury Systems." Professor Marder is the author of the book The Jury Process (2005), and she has written several book chapters on the jury and on juries and judges in popular culture. Professor Marder regularly presents her scholarship at conferences in the United States and abroad.

Professor Marder reaches a wide audience with her work on the jury. She is the founder and director of the Jury Center at Chicago-Kent, which informs scholars about new work on the jury and also undertakes special projects.

Professor Marder has written about juries and courts for high school students, law students, lawyers and judges and has appeared on numerous radio programs, such as National Public Radio, and television programs, such as WTTW's "Chicago Tonight," in order to discuss current jury trials.

As Professor/Reporter for the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Jury Instructions in Civil Cases since 2003, Professor Marder has helped to draft jury instructions for Illinois. She has also drafted jury instructions for the ABA, advocated successfully for rule changes affecting jurors in Illinois, given public testimony for proposed jury reforms, and served as a member on various jury advisory committees.

At Chicago-Kent, Professor Marder teaches a law school course called Juries, Judges & Trials, as well as a course on Legislation and another on Law, Literature & Feminism.

Please wait ...

Back to Top