The Worst Supreme Court Decisions: When Our Highest Court Gets it Terribly Wrong

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Duration 01:06:03

Amherst College

Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He has written, co-written, or edited more than ninety books in the fields of law and political science. Professor Sarat has received the Stan Wheeler Award for his excellence as a teacher and mentor, awarded by the Law and Society Association.



The Supreme Court is generally thought of as the citadel of the rule of law and an essential beacon of liberty and rights. Decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education (ending the legal segregation of public schools) and Obergefell v. Hodges (allowing same sex marriage) underlie that reputation. But there is another side to the story–a side that shows resistance to inclusion, equality and rights. This lecture will examine that other story. Professor Sarat will examine the Court’s most notorious decisions and ask why they are infamous. What can we learn about America and its legal traditions from a close study of cases in which injustice was done in the name of America’s Constitution?

The 11 Worst Supreme Court Decisions of All Time

  • M’Intosh vs Johnson, 1823
  • Dred Scott vs Sanford 1857
  • Bradwell vs Illinois, 1873
  • Plessy vs Ferguson, 1896
  • Lochner vs New York, 1905
  • Buck vs Bell, 1927
  • Korematsu vs U.S., 1944
  • Bowers vs Hardwick, 1986
  • McCleskey vs Kemp, 1987
  • Bush vs Gore, 2000
  • Citizens United vs FEC, 2010



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