Next pub talk will explore the Supreme Court and rule of law

Supreme Court building

For an institution tasked with determining the law of the land, the Supreme Court gets very little guidance from the Constitution.

“It’s around 400 words … and lot of the words are ‘and’ and ‘the,’” University of Oregon political scientist Alison Gash joked.

Gash has a particular interest in American courts and how judges play a role in maintaining the rule of law. On Wednesday, Oct 24, she will give a free Quack Chats pub talk titled “The Supreme Court at a Critical Juncture.“

The talk begins at 6 p.m. at the Ax Billy Grill & Sports Bar at the Downtown Athletic Club, 999 Willamette St. in Eugene.

“We are in a moment now where the nature of the court and the kinds of decisions and the trajectory of certain deeply contentious political fights will be determined by this nomination and who wins the next one,” Gash said.

Gash has been traveling the country for the last year and a half talking about how the court’s power is accrued and created through its actions. She believes that increasing political and partisan fights over the court could alter the how the justices do their jobs. 

“The founding fathers wanted the court to be a space where the rule of law, as opposed to accountability to some sort of popular majority, would be the driving impulse for the ways in which laws were interpreted,” Gash explained.

She wonders how this era of “toxic partisanship” will affect this.

While the new Supreme Court will have the opportunity to make major decisions in the coming months, Gash will not focus on specific issues. Instead, she said there is something much larger at stake.

“The rule of law and democracy are up for grabs,” Gash said.

To learn more about upcoming Quack Chats, see the Quack Chats section on Around the O. A general description of Quack Chats and a calendar of additional Quack Chats and associated public events also can be found on the UO’s Quack Chats website.

Alison Gash is a UO expert on the intersection of public law and public policy, focusing mostly on issues of civil rights, race, gender, sexuality and disability.

By Molly Blancett, University Communications