Lansdowne History Forum 2019-2020
Will Begin in September

The Lansdowne Public Library, 3rd Thursday @ 7:30 PM

Presented by: Michael Sheehan and Neil Ronk

History of the Supreme Court


This year we will examine the history of the Supreme Court, nine unelected individuals who have had a profound impact on every aspect of governance and our personal lives from race and gender equality to protections of free speech, religion, and the right to bear arms.  It has often been a contentious and tumultuous history, but one central to our constitutionally stated goal of forming a more perfect union.  This discussion is free, and open to all people of all political persuasions.

Sep. 19 - The Role and Powers of the Supreme Court

As an introduction to our theme, we will examine briefly the establishment and early history of the court with a primary focus on its role of serving as a check and balance to the powers of the presidency and the congress.

Nov. 21 - War Between the Branches: President vs the Court

All Presidents have complained about specific Supreme Court decisions, but in some cases, including Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and Franklin Roosevelt, they have waged war against the power of the court.

Jan. 16 - The Supreme Court and the First Amendment

Perhaps the two most important and personal rights enshrined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are freedom of speech and religion.  But it has been left up to the courts to define the limits of and protections for these essential rights.

Mar. 19 - The Supreme Court and Gender

Perhaps the greatest controversies the court has been embroiled in are those involving gender, from women's health to LGBTQ issues.  Society as a whole has remained deeply divided both before and after these Supreme Court decisions.

May. 21 - Advise and Consent: The Confirmation Process for Supreme Court Nominees

From Robert Bork to Brett Kavanaugh, the Senate confirmation process of Supreme Court justices has become an ugly and divisive process ensuring the politicization of the Supreme Court.

Oct. 17 - John Marshall and the Supreme Court

Arguably the greatest Supreme Court Justice, John Marshall affirmed the equality of the court with the two other branches of government and, politically, protected the principles of the Federalist Party against Jefferson's democratic revolution





The History Forum does not meet in December

Feb. 20 - The Supreme  Court and Race

Perhaps the most impactful court decisions on our society have been decisions on race from early days of slavery through the modern civil rights movement and to today.  We will examine many of these key decisions, including Plessy v Ferguson, Brown v Board, the Bakke decision, and many more.

Apr. 16 - The Supreme Court and the Second Amendment

From Sandy Hook to Parland to El Paso and hundreds of similar events between, our nation has been plagued by mass shootings, leading to public outcries both to end gun violence and protect Second Amendment rights.  This month we will explore the role of the Supreme Court in addressing this peculiarly American problem.


Jun. 18 - The Roberts Court

We will examine the current makeup of the Supreme Court, their major decisions made to this point, and the issues likely to be faced in the near future.