The year at Law Dork: Looking back, looking ahead
Several key areas of coverage that emerged at Law Dork in 2023 highlight the pivotal role that 2024 will play in America's future.
On the last day of 2023, it is pretty clear to me that the year was, ultimately, a run-up to 2024 — at least as it comes to the law (and the rule of law).
That’s obvious as to the 2024 presidential election. And, it’s clear as to the U.S. Supreme Court — given that we’re midway through the term. But, it’s no less clear, as I looked back, for many of the other biggest stories that I covered here at Law Dork this year. The fights against anti-LGBTQ legislation and laws, challenges to abortion access, voting rights questions, and the role of extremist — and often explicitly religious — forces in pushing the law to an ever more conservative position are all stories that dominated the more than 200 Law Dork headlines in 2023. But, for the most part, few of those stories are resolved.
In short, I don’t think it overstates things to say that 2024 could be a year that stands as a pivot point in American history. The way that Donald Trump’s candidacy is handled, the outcome of the 2024 election, justices’ treatment of the Supreme Court itself and the cases in front of them, continued questions about Congress’s ability to get things done, state officials’ decisions, the media’s coverage of all of those actions (or inaction), and, yes, the response from people across the country to it all is going to make 2024 an extremely important year for establishing the path ahead.
I’ll be here at Law Dork, covering the stories as I see them, trying my best to stress the context and consequences, talking to the key people involved in the cases and questions at issue, and — as always — providing the documents so that you can dive deeper yourself.
With that in mind, here’s a look back at 2023 at Law Dork — in light of what I’ll be doing here in 2024.
Trump and 2024
My coverage of Donald Trump’s legal woes and the 2024 election, as well as my coverage of the Supreme Court’s cases and ethics questions, are all over Law Dork, but I would just highlight this piece as a summary of where things stand going into 2024.
The near-constant passage of anti-LGBTQ laws in 2023, with a focus on anti-transgender laws, led quickly to near-constant litigation in court over those laws. Although the initial review of these cases by trial court judges appointed by presidents of both parties suggested unanimity that these measures are unconstitutional, a pair of appeals courts sided with the states banning gender-affirming medical care for minors in rulings released in August and September — throwing the ultimate resolution into doubt. None of that is resolved. Cases — and more legislation — will continue in 2024.
A Post-Roe nation
The challenge to mifepristone took center stage earlier in the year, and will be back in 2024 when the Supreme Court hears arguments over access to the drug. Continued wins by abortion rights supporters at the ballot box, meanwhile, served as a reminder of the political fallout from Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. It was the story of Kate Cox — and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s refusal to allow her to get an abortion in the state — in December that showed most simply and directly how restrictive life can be without Roe v. Wade.
The death penalty
The death penalty is rarely carried out in this country today, but the U.S. Supreme Court as it is currently constituted appears to care less about ensuring that those states continuing to want to kill people do so with anywhere near the sort of skepticism that I think appropriate for such an absolute exercise of state power. (The case of Richard Glossip may, ultimately, be an exception — but even that is uncertain.) I will continue to cover the death penalty so long as it exists. And, for now, that will include executions scheduled already for 2024.
Law Dork has repeatedly covered instances of how far-right figures are pushing — or manipulating — the legal system to their benefit. Whether it be federal judges purporting to act within their judicial capacity or outside entities seeking to influence the way that official action is taken, Law Dork has published several exclusive reports and in-depth reports on how far-right judges and others are working to push the law even further to the right than the U.S. Supreme Court has already taken it. That, undoubtedly, will also continue in 2024.
Thanks for reading Law Dork. If you don’t subscribe yet, sign up now — as a free or paid subscriber.