Garrett Epps

Garrett Epps is Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore. He covers the Supreme Court for theatlantic.comHis book, American Epic: Reading the US Constitution was published in August 2013 by Oxford University Press.

Recent Articles

Yes, America, Global Warming Does Exist

The D.C. Circuit Court says so, despite convoluted industry arguments to the contrary.

AP Images

“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make zero,” Winston Smith, the hero of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eight-Four, writes in his secret journal. “If that is granted, all else follows.”

Or to paraphrase for the modern era, “EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.”

Cruel? Sure, but How Unusual?

Alito’s overlooked, important dissent on juvenile sentencing 

AP Images

One of the most interesting dynamics on the Roberts Court is the emerging rivalry between Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Samuel Alito for intellectual leadership of the conservative wing. From time to time, Alito openly mocks Scalia’s “originalist” philosophy (see, for example, his concurrence in United States v. Jones, ridiculing the idea that “eighteenth-century tort law” can decide questions about global positioning technology). It’s a generation thing: Alito is a callow 62 to Scalia’s 76. Like young folk everywhere, he’s embarrassed for his friends to see him in public with crazy Uncle Nino.

Memo to Jan Brewer: You Had a Bad Day Monday

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Governor Jan Brewer applauded Monday’s decision in Arizona v. United States for upholding “the heart of S.B. 1070.”

Wrong.

In an opinion by Justice Kennedy, the Court struck down the three provisions that prescribed punishment for the undocumented. It upheld one provision—but made clear that, unless Arizona courts themselves limit the measure, that one is likely to fail an as-applied challenge once it goes into effect.

Court to Super PACs: Full Speed Ahead

(Flickr / epSos.de)

During the 1980s and '90s, conservatives liked to talk about the “sagebrush rebellion,” in which local officials in Western counties tried to take back federal land and escape the “tyranny” of federal land-management and environmental rules.  That rebellion still simmers. But today, the Supreme Court crushed, for the moment, a newer rebellion out of the West. 

Can Broadcasters Use Dirty Words? Court says, “#$%& If We Know”

(AP Photo/E. Pablo Kosmicki/file)

Thursday was First Amendment day at the Supreme Court. But the Court ducked the chance to decide what is literally its most visible case of the term—the “dirty words on broadcast TV” case. Federal Communications Commission v. Fox Television Stations, was on its second trip to the show. Seven justices delivered an opinion that sheds no light at all on the interesting issue—whether the government may ban “fleeting expletives” on broadcast TV. 

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