Strict Scrutiny

40 Episodes

By: Crooked Media

Strict Scrutiny is a podcast about the United States Supreme Court and the legal culture that surrounds it. The show is hosted by three women, Leah Litman, Kate Shaw and Melissa Murray, who are three law professors, but they’re also swimmers, mothers (of humans and dogs), and celebrity gossip enthusiasts. They’re women who’ve practiced before and write about the Court in their professional lives. They have a different voice–one that celebrates the contributions and opinions of women and people of color. They provide intelligent and in-depth legal analysis alongside their unvarnished, respectfully irreverent takes. And they want to...

Just how bad is the Supreme Court's EPA decision?
Last Friday at 1:50 AM

Kate and Leah break down the "free-wheeling, free association analysis" of the Supreme Court's opinion in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency. Basically, it's bad! And not just because of the impending climate apocalypse!

This Maximalist Conservative Supermajority
Last Monday at 7:00 AM

The pace of opinion releases has accelerated considerably as we speed toward the end of June and the justices' vacations. Even though last week brought us blockbuster cases about guns and abortions, there are still lots of consequential opinions getting overlooked. Leah, Kate, and Melissa break them down-- after a few more thoughts about Dobbs [5:32]. Plus, Melissa gets to finally flex her British Royals Brain in the court culture segment [1:05:28].

Opinions discussed:

Marietta Memorial Hospital v. Davita [20:23]

A case about a Medicare statute and end-stage renal disease

US v. Taylor [25:24]

A habeas...

Roe is dead. Now what?

Today the Supreme Court issued their opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. It overruled Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, meaning there is no longer constitutional protection for the right to an abortion. Melissa, Leah, and Kate recap the horrific opinion by Justice Alito and the somehow-worse concurrence by Justice Thomas, and also read some passages straight from the dissent.

You’re angry. We’re angry. Let’s do something about it. From directly supporting patients who need abortions right now, to electing pro-choice candidates in 2022 and building a progressive majority over the long t...

How SCOTUS gutted our gun laws

Today the Supreme Court released its opinion in NYSRPA v. Bruen, saying that the constitutional right to carry a gun extends beyond the home. Kate, Leah, and Melissa break down the opinion and what it means for the future of gun regulations and states' rights.

Reeking of Impropriety

The Supreme Court handed down 11 opinions last week-- 18 more to go. Leah and Melissa recap the outcomes, and then turn to our weekly "Ginni Tonic" segment, because there's always something new there.

Queer Supremacy (A Pride Special)

It's a special Pride episode of Strict Scrutiny! Special guests Joshua Matz and Chase Strangio join Melissa, Kate, and Leah to highlight developments and ongoing litigation around LGBTQ rights.

This year, Crooked Media’s Pride fund is supporting three incredible organizations that provide community building, gender affirming, and life saving resources to the queer and transgender community. Visit to donate and learn more.

The Newly Constituted and Restless

The Supreme Court released four opinions last week (still 20-something to go before the end of the term), so Leah, Kate, and Melissa break them all down. Plus, they address the need for increased security for all federal judges, and offer a recipe for a new, refreshing cocktail to sip while you take in all the news.

Recapped opinions include the bankruptcy case Siegel v. Fitzgerald [8:26], the Medicaid case Gallardo v. Marstiller [10:34], the pro-arbitration-plaintiff-win-after-a-kick-ass-argument-by-lady-lawyer case Southwest Airlines v. Saxon [21:07], and the Bivens case, Egbert v. Boule [26:19].

Allow Me To Retort

Melissa interviews Elie Mystal about his new book, Allow Me To Retort: A Black Guy's Guide to the Constitution.

P.S. Melissa, Kate, and Leah will be on The Problem with Jon Stewart this Thursday, June 9th! Don't miss it.

Innocence Isn't Enough

Investigative journalist Liliana Segura joins Kate, Melissa, and Leah to tell the story of Barry Jones, who was the center of one of the cases in Shinn v. Martinez Ramirez [3:30]. The Supreme Court released an opinion in the case last week, and it's bad. There is a miniscule moment of joy, though, in the recap of the opinion in Morgan v. Sundance, which is about arbitration and also Taco Bell [51:58]. Finally, we do a quick round-up of other court-adjacent news, including the fever dream that is Ginni Thomas's email signature, and theories as to why the Court is being...

The Only Loser is the Public

Ellen Weintraub, commissioner of the Federal Election Commission since 2002, joins Kate and Leah to break down the Supreme Court's opinion in FEC v. Ted Cruz, an important campaign finance case [2:07]. (Commissioner Weintraub also joined us to preview the case before oral arguments-- go back and listen to that episode if you haven't!) Kate and Leah also debrief the opinion Patel v. Garland, a major immigration case with a pretty devastating result [32:45]. They also flag a grant of a habeas-related case the Court will hear next term, Jones v. Hendrix [47:23], and then try to bring their blood pressure down by...

What's next in a post-Roe world

Kate and Leah spend some additional time on possible fallout from a Dobbs opinion overruling or eviscerating Roe. They interview two people with insight on what we can expect in a post-Roe world. Diana Greene Foster is a professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences and a researcher on reproductive health at UCSF. She's also the author of The Turnaway Study: Ten Years, a Thousand Women, and the Consequences of Having--Or Being Denied--An Abortion [3:14]. And Greer Donley is an assistant professor at University of Pittsburgh Law, and one of the three authors of the extremely topical and...

Stay Mad Like Sam

Kate, Melissa, and Leah recap the remaining arguments from the April session: Nance v. Ward [1:38] and Biden v. Texas [18:04]. They also get into a unanimous opinion about religious speech [43:28], and of course, break down some court culture before continuing their investigation into the leaked draft opinion [52:30].

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What the SCOTUS leak could mean for abortion

Kate, Leah and Melissa get together for an emergency episode to discuss a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion that indicates the justices are prepared to overrule the decisions protecting and reaffirming the constitutional right to an abortion.Protect Abortion Access. Donate to Abortion Funds: more about your ad choices. Visit

What the SCOTUS leak could mean for abortion

Kate, Leah and Melissa get together for an emergency episode to discuss a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion that indicates the justices are prepared to overrule the decisions protecting and reaffirming the constitutional right to an abortion.


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The Inner Life of Coach Kavanaugh

Leah, Kate, and Melissa bring you a jam-packed show recapping news, arguments, and opinions from the Supreme Court in the past couple weeks. Recaps include "the praying coach case," aka Kennedy v. Bremerton School District [10:26], Shoop v. Twyford [45:27], and Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta [50:05]. We also do some math trying to figure out who might-- or might not-- have the still-to-come opinion in Dobbs [57:21], and get out the kleenex for the Chief Justice's teary tribute to Justice Breyer [1:06:44].

Coup, But Make It Look Legal

Kate's off glamping, so Leah and Melissa are left to their own devices to recap SCOTUS news [1:37], arguments from the first week in the April sitting [27:09], and fresh opinions [54:00]. Plus, a new game: X-Treme Textualism.

The Non-Existent Establishment Clause

Leah, Kate, and Melissa catch up on SCOTUS news (including more shadow docket activity and shady Thomas behavior) [1:04] and preview the cases the Supreme Court will hear in their last sitting of the term [35:54]. The justices will be going out with a bang, hearing cases about veteran benefits, Miranda warnings, immigration, and of course, religious liberty.

Justice on the Brink

Melissa interviews Linda Greenhouse about her new book, Justice on the Brink: The Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Rise of Amy Coney Barrett, and Twelve Months That Transformed the Supreme Court. This conversation was originally a live, virtual event from the Brennen Center for Justice, produced in part­ner­ship with New York University’s John Brademas Center.

Light Conspiracy Theories

Leah and Kate catch up on all SCOTUS-related "antics" that happened in March-- including the latest in Ginni Thomas news [00:55], opinions [25:06], oral arguments [40:23], and non-Thomas-related news [52:56].

Backwards and in High Heels

Leah, Kate, and Melissa watched all the confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson-- so you don't have to. Here's our recap of the best, worst, and weirdest moments throughout four days of questioning.

Go Down Clutching the Constitution

Rebecca Nagle, host of This Land, joins Leah and Kate to discuss the issues at stake in Brackeen v. Haaland, a case challenging the Indian Child Welfare Act that the Supreme Court will hear next term.

Plus, Kate and Leah catch you up on the latest in SB8 news, an opinion written by Justice Kagan, and the cases the Supreme Court will hear in the next two weeks [20:54]. There's also more drama with Ginni Thomas [51:50], a judge trying to cancel student protestors [56:18], and a House hearing on workplace protections in the federal judiciary [1:01:53].


Living Textualism

Kate and Leah talk with Cary Franklin, the McDonald/Wright Chair of Law and Faculty Director of the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, about her article "Living Textualism." The article is a broad critique of textualism, using the Supreme Court's 6-3 decision in Bostock v. Clayton County as a foundation.

Canon Wars

Rachel Rothschild, legal fellow at the Institute for Policy Integrity, joins Kate and Melissa to recap oral argument in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency. They also recap cases about prescription drugs, tribal casinos, outpatient dialysis, and what happens when a state wants to enforce a law that's no longer in effect. Plus, there's more on KBJ's pending confirmation, Ginni Thomas's doings, and Sam Alito's... laugh?

Indian Law Hall of Fame

Leah recaps Denezpi v. United States, an important case about tribal sovereignty, with Matthew Fletcher (Michigan State University & Chief Justice of the Pokagon band of Potawatomi Indians Court of Appeals) & April Youpee-Roll (Munger Tolles & Olson), which may involve … Neil Gorsuch’s heel turn in Indian law?!?

KBJ, All the Way!

Melissa, Kate, & Leah discuss the historic nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson – KBJ, Yay! – to the U.S. Supreme Court. Professor Lisa Fairfax (University of Pennsylvania, Carey School of Law) joins us to share some personal perspective on Judge Jackson after decades of friendship.

I Don't Wanna

Leah discusses the upcoming climate change case, West Virginia v. EPA, with Lisa Heinzerling and Kirti Datla (1:06). Slate's Mark Joseph Stern joins later to tee up a case the Court has granted for argument next term, 303 Creative v. Elenis, a case involving a graphic designer who doesn’t want to create websites for same-sex couples (49:48).

We're Doing S'mores

Leah, Kate, & Melissa run through a bunch of Court adjacent news-- including this Jane Mayer piece about Ginni Thomas-- before highlighting the big cases to watch in the February sitting.

Speedy Sonia

Leah's dreams come true with an episode all about a resentencing case, and the meaning of the First Step Act of 2018-- Concepcion v. United States. Tiffany Wright and Easha Anand join in.

Party Like It's 1935

Kate, Melissa, and Leah interview Professors Julian Davis Mortenson and Nick Bagley about the nondelegation doctrine. 

Further Erosion

Deuel Ross, senior counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, joins Leah and Kate to discuss the Supreme Court’s decision allowing an election in Alabama to proceed under a legislative map that dilutes the voting power of Black Alabamians. 

Supreme Ambition

Melissa, Kate, and Leah sit down with Ruth Marcus, the author of Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover.

Mensch On The Bench

Kate, Melissa, & Leah are joined by Dean Risa Goluboff & Tejas Narechania for a retrospective on Justice Breyer. Then FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub joins for a discussion of FEC v. Ted Cruz for Senate.

Comeback Kid

Our boy Steve is retiring. Here are our thoughts on the timing, his legacy, and potential successors.

Putting the Tea in Totenberg

Nina Totenberg joins the podcast to discuss her story that broke the Internet and sent the Court into a statement frenzy. Kate, Leah, and Melissa then break down some of the January arguments and what is happening with S.B. 8.

BONUS: Strict Scrutiny x Why Is This Happening?

The ladies of Strict Scrutiny join forces with Why Is This Happening?, hosted by Chris Hayes (aka Mr. Kate Shaw).

Late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “it’s hard not to have a big year at the Supreme Court.” With that in mind, we thought it would be good to do a gut check as 2022 promises to be one of the most important years in the Court’s history. We like doing new things here at WITHpod, so we’re excited to share our first crossover episode with the hosts of The Strict Scrutiny podcast, Chris’ wife Kate Sh...

Hot Potato

Payvand Ahdout, Assistant Professor of Law at University of Virginia School of Law and federal courts and post-conviction review expert, joins Leah to debrief the first week of the Court's January arguments, an important resentencing case to be argued the second week (attn: Kim Kardashian), and a bunch of court culture that ... isn't particularly upbeat for lady lawyers.

Putting the F in FDR

Melissa, Leah, and Kate recap the Supreme Court’s opinions invalidating the Biden administration’s test-or-vaccinate policy for employers with more than 100 employees, and the Court’s grudging acceptance that employees at federally funded healthcare facilities should not be able to kill their patients.

Justice for Snowflake

Leah, Melissa, & Kate preview the cases to be argued in the January sitting (other than the test-and-vax cases), and also cover all of the Court-adjacent news that has happened over the last month.

No Laws, Just Vibes

Kate, Melissa, and Leah recap oral arguments in two emergency applications related to Biden administration policies designed to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

Laboratories of Autocracy

Melissa, Kate, and Leah get to spend an entire show on one of their favorite topics -- Sam Alito. This time with an assist from Justice Alito’s nemesis, Adam Serwer.