Program Details

The Least Dangerous Branch:  Has the Supreme Court Become Too Political?

Burton Atkins
Law / Current Events
Video Catch-up

Course Description

Writing in Federalist No. 78 Alexander Hamilton described the judiciary as the “least dangerous branch” of government. To some, Hamilton’s comment might seem either naive or disingenuous as the Supreme Court in recent years has addressed some of the most divisive issues in American politics, such as gun rights, abortion, religion, and gender identity. At the same time, the contentious politics associated with the nomination of new justices draws national attention and millions watch on television as nominees respond to often hostile questions during their confirmation hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee. With Hamilton’s famous observation as the backdrop, this one-time lecture will examine some of the contemporary issues of national politics considered by the Supreme Court, the politics associated with selecting the justices and the debates about possible reforms to the high court, such as term limits and even whether the number of justices should be increased.

About the Instructor

  • Burton Atkins, Ph.D., is professor emeritus of political science at Florida State University (FSU). Currently, he teaches political science at FAU and for Penn State University. In his 35-year career at FSU, Atkins taught a variety of courses on and wrote extensively about constitutional law and U.S. politics and served as chair of the political science department. He lived in London from 1992 to 1997 while serving as the director of FSU's London Study Center, and from 1997 until his retirement in 2006, he served as director of the FSU International Affairs Program.

Upcoming programs presented by Burton Atkins.

TypeNumberInstructorCourse TitleAdd to Cart
One-Time FPL12062 Burton Atkins The Least Dangerous Branch:  Has the Supreme Court Become Too Political?
Monday, December 6: 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm