See complete list of Headliners events.

The Founding Fathers considered the US Supreme Court to be the weakest of the three branches of government since, as Alexander Hamilton noted, it held “neither sword nor purse strings.”

Yet while a US president may remain in office for two terms or a maximum of eight years, they are also able to influence public policy for decades to follow through appointments to the US Supreme Court. Indeed, justices serve until they retire, die, or are impeached. The average tenure of a justice is 15 years, though many serve longer. 

For example, Chief Justice John Marshall, appointed by Thomas Jefferson in 1801, served a record 34 years. The longest serving current justice is Clarence Thomas, who has been on the Court since 1991.

As justices hold their decades-long tenures, the Supreme Court has arguably become the most powerful branch of government, deciding on hot-button issues such as abortion rights, gerrymandering, voting rights, and freedom of speech. Keep in mind: once the justices make a decision, it is very difficult for Congress to overturn that decision. 

Join us October 10, when nationally recognized Supreme Court scholar Dr. Timothy R. Johnson will discuss his insights about how the Court decides, how the justices interact with one another, and what this means for the 2019 term (which, in keeping with tradition, begins on the first Monday in October: October 7).

Timothy R. Johnson, PhD, Washington University, is Morse-Alumni Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Law at the University of Minnesota and a nationally recognized expert on US Supreme Court oral arguments and decision-making.
The former co-editor of Law and Society Review, he is the author or co-author of four books, including Oral Arguments and Coalition Formation on the US Supreme Court (University of Michigan Press, 2012), A Good Quarrel: America's Top Legal Reporters Share Stories from Inside the Supreme Court (University of Michigan Press, 2009), and Oral Arguments and Decision Making on the US Supreme Court (SUNY Press, 2004). His most recent book project, The Court at Conference, uses the justices' personal papers to examine how their private conference discussions help mold the decisions they make.

Johnson's work appears in a variety of academic journals, as well as in The Economist, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, USA Today, and The National Journal. In addition, he provides commentary frequently for National Public Radio, Minnesota Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Radio, WCCO, KARE, KSTP, and KMPS. 

Beyond his scholarly research, Johnson is the recipient of numerous awards for his work in the classroom and as a mentor to graduate and undergraduate students. In 2018 he received the American Political Science Association's Distinguished Teaching Award and was named a semi-finalist for the prestigious Robert F. Cherry Award for Great Teaching. The University of Minnesota has honored Johnson with the Red Motley Award for Exemplary Teaching, the Horace T. Morse-Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education, and the John Tate Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising.

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Headliners takes place monthly, October through May (no event in January), at the Continuing Education and Conference Center on the University's Saint Paul campus. Dates for the 2019−20 season are October 10, November 7, December 5, February 6, March 5, April 2, and May 7. Individual event tickets are $20. Subscribe to the series by October 10 and get tickets to all seven events for $90. (A savings of $50!)

See complete list of Headliners events.

Headliners tickets are nonrefundable. If you have questions, please call the Information Center at 612-624-4000.

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Section Title
October Headliners: The US Supreme Court: Still the Least Dangerous Branch?
7:00PM to 8:30PM
Oct 10, 2019
Twin Cities
Continuing Education & Conference Center
Schedule and Location
Contact Hours
Course Fee(s)
Single Ticket non-credit $20.00
Section Fees
Ticket 2 $20.00 Optional
Ticket 3 $20.00 Optional
Ticket 4 $20.00 Optional
Ticket 5 $20.00 Optional
Drop Request Deadline
Oct 03, 2019
Transfer Request Deadline
Oct 03, 2019
Section Details

Course Location:                  Continuing Education and Conference Center

Phone: 612-624-4000
Email: ccapsinfo@umn.edu
Web: ccaps.umn.edu/headliners

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