Simon Lazarus

Simon Lazarus is a lawyer, former White House domestic policy staffer for President Jimmy Carter, and a writer on the Supreme Court’s handling of legal checks on corporate power and other legal issues. 

Recent Articles

Liberal Voters Finally Notice the War Over the Courts — Decades After Conservatives Did

For decades, only social conservatives made the courts a make-or-break voting issue. Can liberals now up their game and win the war?

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Bob Bland, left, raises her fist as activists protest on the steps of the Supreme Court after the confirmation vote of Brett Kavanaugh on October 6, 2018. Buried in an October 9 Washington Post poll of battleground congressional districts, one set of numbers jumped off the page for those of us who have, for two painful decades, tracked the slow-motion train wreck of the Supreme Court. In this poll of likely voters in 69 districts, the issue most cited as “extremely important” was the “Supreme Court and other judicial nominations.” Sixty-four percent picked it, ahead of Donald Trump (60 percent), health care (57percent ), and the economy (55 percent). To be sure, these numbers reflected the just-pushed-through confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Court. What was more striking, and, one hopes, less ephemeral, was the partisan balance of those respondents. Among those who prioritized judicial nominations, 50 percent supported the...

Here’s How Democrats Can Expose What Kavanaugh Threatens

Highlight his belief in unchecked presidential power, and the danger it poses to the ACA and the Mueller investigation.

If President Donald Trump wished to replace retired Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy with a successor likely to back the White House in any Russia investigation showdown with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, or, more broadly, to legitimate Trump’s penchant for sabotaging laws he disfavors, he could not have done better than nominate Brett Kavanaugh. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has stated that his caucus’s campaign to contest Kavanaugh’s nomination will target two issues—the threat to authorize states to ban abortion by overruling Roe v. Wade, and the threat to gut health insurance or even invalidate the Affordable Care Act. Both issue areas are priority concerns for progressive constituencies, and progressive views on them command considerable support among the electorate. But Democrats and progressives should not neglect the nominee’s absolutist vision of presidential power. Indeed, they should lead with that punch, to initially frame the...

Did the Supreme Court Just Gut the New Deal?

Monday’s ruling banning employee class-action suits could open the door to destroying non-union workers' rights.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court’s five-justice conservative bloc empowered employers to require employees, as a condition of employment, to forego any joint legal remedy for unlawful abuse. It did so despite the core guarantee of two landmark New Deal statutes, that workers have a federal right to engage in “concerted activity” for their “mutual aid or protection.” During the oral argument in the case, as I noted in the Prospect on January 4 , some members of the conservative bloc seemed to be considering tempering or qualifying a result so blatantly at odds with the 1932 Norris-LaGuardia Act (NLGA) and the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), and with 75 years of subsequent court decisions interpreting those laws. But Monday’s decision—in the opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch—reflects no such caution. In their briefs and in oral arguments, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its allies, including the Trump Justice Department, spun...

The Scalia Problem: It Wasn’t Originalism or Textualism -- It Was Trumpism

A review of Richard L. Hasen’s The Justice of Contradictions: Antonin Scalia and the Politics of Disruption

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Two years since Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on February 16, 2016, no new book has offered an overall assessment of his three decades as one of the Supreme Court’s most quoted, contentious, vilified, and celebrated members. That silence is now broken. Richard Hasen, law professor at the University of California at Irvine, prolific author, and host of his own Election Law Blog, has just published a compact and accessible but wide-ranging volume , The Justice of Contradictions: Antonin Scalia and the Politics of Disruption . The book tees up the issue of the extent to which the jurisprudential ideologies the late justice spent his lifetime touting—“originalism” for interpreting the Constitution and “textualism” for deciphering statutes—were and are serious and meritorious efforts at jurisprudence, or, on the contrary, mere slogans to gussy up a political agenda. Few will be surprised by the answer to that question implicit in Hasen...

The Supreme Court Case That Could ‘Overturn the Heart of the New Deal’

And though the Court will rule before July, hardly anyone has noticed it.

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File
As the Supreme Court gets back to work this Friday, January 5, media coverage of its potentially momentous 2017-2018 term has focused on several high-profile cases that deal with gerrymandering, cell phone privacy, religiously cloaked anti-gay discrimination, and the future of public-employee unions. But one sleeper has received less attention than it deserves. Argued on October 2, this case could strip foundational safeguards in place for over 80 years, essential to ensuring millions of low-wage and non-union workers of their right to fair pay, job security, workplace safety, nondiscrimination, and other guarantees protected by state and federal law. The case gives the Roberts Court, with its newly reconstituted 5-4 conservative majority, a chance to escalate its pro-corporate activism to levels unmatched even by the famously anti-regulatory pre-New Deal Court of a century ago. If the Court reaches the result sought by business advocates, this would, as elaborated by two Seton Hall...