Deadline’s Doc Talk Podcast: ‘Deadlocked’ Director Dawn Porter On The U.S. Supreme Court Facing A Crisis Of Legitimacy

At 1 First Street in Northeast Washington stands the columned U.S. Supreme Court building, an imposing marble edifice where the most essential constitutional questions are adjudicated. Across generations, Americans held the institution in the highest regard. But not anymore.

Now, according to polls, perceptions of the Court have shifted drastically — from revered redoubt of impartial justice to just another political forum where ideological battles are waged.

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Filmmaker Dawn Porter, a Georgetown Law School graduate, examines the Court as it faces an unprecedented crisis of legitimacy in her Showtime documentary series Deadlocked: How America Shaped the Supreme Court. Porter is our guest on the latest episode of Deadline’s Doc Talk podcast, discussing how the nation’s highest tribunal evolved in recent decades from protector of minority rights to, arguably, a protector of minority rule.

Porter explains how a “40-year grudge match” waged by GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell created the recent conservative supermajority of the Supreme Court, which led directly to the reversal of Roe v. Wade and the imperiling of guarantees of privacy rights. She makes the case that the Federalist Society and one of its key figures, Leonard Leo, have maneuvered to land the organization’s preferred judges on the bench, reaching an apogee of influence under the presidency of Donald Trump.

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“People think that this court is completely out of step with the American public,” Porter tells Doc Talk. “They’re completely in step with the Federalist Society. And that was by design.”

That’s on the new episode of Doc Talk, the podcast hosted by Oscar winner John Ridley and Deadline’s Documentary Editor Matt Carey, produced by Deadline and Ridley’s Nō Studios and presented with support from National Geographic Documentary Films.

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