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The Maundy Newsletter - This Week in History June 13 - 19.
I hope you had a restful and relaxing weekend. Thanks for continuing to support Okay History.
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest Court in the land, which makes sense since it literally has it in its name. We don't call it the Mid-Level Court, or the Court That Exists, or whatever. The founders spelled it out in the opening credits. It's Supreme – like the pizza.
Established by the Judiciary Act of 1789, the Supreme Court has navigated and shaped its role as the third branch of the federal government. Rulings in cases such as Marbury vs. Madison, Chisholm vs. Georgia, and Dred Scott vs. Sanford are a few examples of where the Supreme Court has set a precedent in how laws are interpreted and executed. These decisions have also led to random new amendments to the Constitution like the Eleventh – which states I cannot sue a state in federal court.
Led by the Chief Justice of the United States, the Supreme Court was an exclusive all-white dudes club until June 13, 1967, when President Lydon B. Johnson nominated Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court.
Marshall was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1908. He attended Frederick Douglass High school, where he graduated early and began his next round of studies at Lincoln University, a small historically black university in Pennsylvania.
His desire to pursue law led him to Howard University in Washington, DC, where he finished first in his class. After graduating, he started his private practice and eventually aligned himself with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Over the next 25 years, Marshall won cases brought before the Court, like Chambers vs. Florida, which said cops couldn't mess with defendants' Due Process, and of course, Brown vs. the Board of Education, which destroyed the "separate but equal" concept and ended legal segregation.
Bobby Kennedy's brother nominated Marshall to the Not Supreme Court, or what is commonly known as the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
LBJ then promoted Marshall to Solicitor General in 1965, which meant Marshall suited up for the government in cases before the Court. He won 14 of the 19 cases he argued. Marshall could litigate!
There were 85 Supreme Court Associate Justices and 14 Chief Justices by the time Marshall was confirmed to the Court in October 1967. All of them white. All of them male.
Thurgood Marshall died in 1993, his legal legacy as a giant intact. He left such a shadow that George HW Bush felt compelled to nominate Clarence Thomas to fill his seat. Thomas was considered for other openings, so it wasn't entirely out of left field. More like far-right field. We have seen how well that has gone.
Okay, let's highlight what else happened this week. Here's what I got:
President Warren G Harding became the first president to be heard on the radio on June 14, 1922. Harding was an advocate for technology and having mistresses stashed in the White House. Around 125,000 people listened to him speak about the awesomeness of the Star-Spangled Banner.
The Democratic National Committee was broken into on June 17, 1972. Five guys were arrested, committees were formed, and hearings were held. Richard Nixon would resign the presidency, and we forever reference every scandal as Watergate, the building where I used to get haircuts from time to time.
The War of 1812 began on June 18, 1812. Revisit my take on the Whatever War, which lasted too long, but did give us the Star-Spangled Banner, which isn't too bad.
I have been binging on The Sopranos on HBO Max for the past couple of months. Instead of reading books written by subscribers, I have vegged out reliving what some say is the greatest television show of all time. If you haven't watched it and don’t want the story ruined, even though it aired over 20 years ago, please feel free to run off right now and enjoy your week.
Rewatching The Sopranos, I was reminded of how awful these people are. I don't feel bad for any of them. They are all jerks, brats, or jerks who act like brats. It's like a comedy of errors committed by terrible people.
The final season was epically hilarious. Everyone is getting killed, and there is zero police or detective presence trying to figure out why Tony Soprano's brother-in-law was gunned down in a toy store. Sal whacked a guy at his house, and months passed with no authority sniffing around about the connected man’s demise in his own home.
The FBI agents from earlier seasons turned into fanboys. Despite the fact that the only remaining crew members are guys named Paulie and Walden, Tony and his family trek out to eat onion rings at some dive dinner. I take solace that as soon as Meadow walks in, the Members Only Jacket Guy comes out of the bathroom and bombs the family into pieces. Cut to black, indeed.
I feel like there's a fan fiction opportunity where Meadow Soprano, having seen her father, mother, and brother wasted before her eyes, turns heel. She picks up the pieces of the remaining crew members, props up her soon-to-be husband Patrick to be the Boss, dives into cybercrime, and leads the family back to prominence.
Anyway, I'm happy to get back to reading books.
Have a great week! I'll have something for Friday. Until then…