Professors Featured on PBS Supreme Court Series

January 22, 2007

Virginia law professors A. E. Dick Howard, Michael Klarman, and G. Edward "Ted" White will be featured in a forthcoming PBS series on the Supreme Court to air Jan. 31 and Feb. 7 at 9 pm. Produced by Thirteen/WNET New York, "The Supreme Court" is the first major television series to trace the story and influence of America's highest court.

"This is a series not to be missed. The story of the Supreme Court is, in many ways, the story of America," said Howard, who also was a consultant for the series. "Channel 13 has done a superb job of bringing the Court's history to life through an emphasis on key justices, such as Earl Warren and William H. Rehnquist. As the Roberts era on the Court gets underway, now is a perfect time to explore the great struggles and issues through which the justices have left their mark on the nation's life."

The four-hour series traces the evolution of how the Court has defined its role and manifested its powers. The program also explores the shifting balance between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government, including the complex and explosive collisions between the Court and the presidency.

"Many see the Court as a monolithic institution removed from the volatility of everyday life. But in this series we will lift the curtains and discover the personalities and power-plays of those mysterious figures on the high bench," said Jody Sheff, executive producer of the series. "And we will explore the dramatic stories of the individuals whose cases have come before the court to shape the laws of our land."

White said the series' interviewers and producers had done their homework and directed their questions toward fruitful topics.

"Although some quite good books have been published on the history of the Court and its justices, the treatment of the Court's history on television has not been comparably good," said White, who clerked for Chief Justice Earl Warren. "Too often programs have tried to find something 'sensational,' or attractive to a mass market, in the Court's decisions, and that emphasis distorts the Court's work. Based on the questions I was asked in interviews and the general orientation of the series, I expect a more thoughtful and analytical approach in this series."

"The series should be terrific," Klarman said. "They managed to interview an eclectic group of scholars, across several disciplines, which should make for a wide variety of perspectives."

Howard is the White Burkett Miller Professor of Law and Public Affairs and the Earle K. Shawe Research Professor at the Law School, where he teaches courses on the Supreme Court, constitutional law, and comparative law. Howard was executive director of the commission that wrote Virginia's current constitution, and his book "Commentaries on the Constitution of Virginia" received a Phi Beta Kappa prize. Michael Klarman, James Monroe Distinguished Professor of Law and Elizabeth D. and Richard A. Merrill Research Professor, won the Bancroft Prize for his book on the legal history of the civil rights movement, "From Jim Crow to Civil Rights." G. Edward White is a David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law. His 12 published books have won several awards and honors, including final listing for the Pulitzer Prize in history.

For more information on the series, see

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