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Chatham House Primer: The US Supreme Court

25 October 2016 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm

Chatham House, London


James D. Zirin, Host, Conversations in the Digital Age; Author, Supremely Partisan: How Raw Politics Tips the Scales in the Supreme Court of the United States



A few weeks before a presidential election that may determine the makeup of the US Supreme Court justices for decades to come, lawyer, broadcaster and author James Zirin will provide an overview of the history and constitutional importance of the highest court in one of the world’s major superpowers.

The talk will cover:

  • Separation of powers in the US Constitution: origins of the Court
  • Jurisdiction and rulemaking power
  • Who are the justices, how are they elected, are they all equal?
  • Strict originalism v judicial activism
  • The predictability of voting outcomes: are justices politically partisan?
  • Major recent cases: Obamacare; Hobby Lobby; gay marriage
  • Accountability of the Supreme Court: can justices be removed?
  • Why this presidential election matters for the future of the Supreme Court

About Chatham House Primers

The Chatham House Primer Series is a unique programme of talks designed to bridge the gap between introductory level subject knowledge and a more advanced understanding geared towards practical application, higher-level discussion and policy debate.

With each talk hosted by a leading expert, the Primer series aims to provide the audience with a solid grounding in topics of academic curiosity, key international affairs concepts and the issues behind the news.

This event will be followed by a reception open to all attendees.