Skip to content

History of Court Reform Efforts (1865–2022) with Samuel Moyn & William Forbath

Feb 20, 2024



Time of Event:

8pm ET/5pm PT

The second session of our 6-part open course/reading group “What To Do About The Courts,” cohosted with the People’s Parity Project, will take place on February 20th at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT. This session will be led by Professors Samuel Moyn and William Forbath.

TOPIC: Even though structural and disempowering court reforms are often portrayed as  new and radical ideas, they in fact have a long history. Since at least the 19th century, efforts have been made to return power to the elected branches from the courts. In this session, we will discuss the history of court reform efforts, including successes, challenges, and lessons for today.

FACULTY: Samuel Moyn is the Chancellor Kent Professor of Law and History at Yale University. Professor Moyn has written a number of books, most recently Liberalism against Itself: Cold War Intellectuals and the Making of Our Times. In 2021, Professor Moyn’s testimony to the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court focused on the fact that court reform “must not emphasize the maintenance or restoration of institutional legitimacy as its main rationale, but instead adopt the goal of enhancing democratic authority over law.”  Professor Moyn has written both academic and popular articles with Professor Ryan Doerfler of Harvard Law School on democratizing the Supreme Court. 

William Forbath is the Lloyd M. Bentsen Chair and Associate Dean of Research at UT Austin School of Law; as well as a Professor of History. He is the author of Law and the Shaping of the American Labor Movement and coauthor of The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution: Reconstructing the Economic Foundations of American Democracy (with Professor Joseph Fishkin of UCLA Law). Professor Forbath has written dozens of articles, book chapters, and essays on legal and constitutional history and theory and comparative constitutional law.

READINGS: The readings and the discussion questions for Session 2 will be sent to registered participants on February 14th.

REGISTRATION: To attend this session and all of the sessions in the “What To Do About the Courts” Series, please register: (If you registered for session 1, you do not need to register again).