Cara L. Gallagher, Weekend Contributor
To say I follow the courts like most people follow professional sports would be an understatement. Court watching is my spectator sport and I’m one of its biggest (nerdiest?) fans. It’s taken me years, but in June of 2013 I had my Rudy-moment when I stepped out of the stands and onto the field. That was the summer I first covered the Supreme Court for C-SPAN. Since then I’ve sat in the front rows covering the decisions in the final weeks of the Supreme Court’s term, created my own blog on the Supreme Court, interviewed Court experts like Jonathan Turley and SCOTUSblog founder Tom Goldstein, and I continue to teach and write about the courts. I’m a SCOTUS junkie who has Google alerts set to “Supreme Court” and “circuit court,” Hootsuite streams set to monitor the latest #SCOTUS news, and bookmarked pages of sites like this blog and Howard Bashman’s HowAppealing.com. The only time I can’t feed my addiction is when I have to operate heavy machinery, liking driving and biking to work. Recently my commute to and from work just got so much better thanks to two new legal podcast series I’ve discovered.
Podcasts, glorious podcasts! Not since the days of the fireside chats have people been so eager to listen to radio stories. This Golden Age of podcasts is in its nascent stage thanks to the sudden mainstream popularity of NPR’s Serial series. If you have even a minor interest in Law & Order and/or true crime mysteries, you should probably stop reading now and go download Serial. When you’re done, or if you’re like many people and you’ve already caught up on the most recent episode, consider getting your next fix by downloading Dahlia Lithwick’s Amicus podcasts.
Lithwick, a veteran Supreme Court reporter for Slate.com, has seven podcasts that are only 20-35 minutes long and cover current Supreme Court cases, books written by the Justices, and the personalities on the bench. She breaks down the cases in highly accessible ways for a broad audience and hosts experts who highlight the constitutional or statutory questions in each case. The most recent episode explained the arguments in a 1st Amendment free speech case about potentially threatening Facebook posts (Elonis v. U.S.) and whether shipping company UPS has to give a pregnant employee the same accommodations as one injured on the job (Young v. UPS). A previous episode highlighted Reuters court reporter Joan Biskupic’s new book on Justice Sotomayor. For the more seasoned legal listener, consider downloading Jeffrey Rosen’s, another GW Law professor and founder of the National Constitution Center, podcasts. Rosen’s podcasts are not new and are a bit longer, but the point-counterpoint debates in many of the episodes are impressive showdowns between legal experts and lawyers.
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Follow Cara on Twitter @SupremeBystandr