Ethel and Julius Rosenberg leaving the courthouse in a prison van, 1951.

Not How He Wanted to Be Remembered

Two decades passed before the ghosts of the Rosenbergs came back to haunt Irving Kaufman, the judge who sentenced them to death.
U.S. Supreme Court building where "Equal Justice Under Law" is written in stone.

The Originalist Case for Affirmative Action?

The argument made recently by Kim Forde-Mazrui may not be in good faith, but it does raise important questions about the meaning of the Constitution.
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist testifies to a House Financial Services subcommittee about minting coins in commemoration of former Chief Justice John Marshall on March 10, 2004.

There’s Unsettling New Evidence About William Rehnquist’s Views on Segregation

The Supreme Court Justice's defense of Plessy v. Ferguson in a 1993 memo continues to influence the court's interpretation of the 14th amendment.
Tulsa, Oklahoma on fire during the Tulsa Massacre.

How World War I Inspired Black Americans to Fight for Dignity at Home

The war marked a sea change in how black men viewed their own citizenship.
Transgender woman marching in a pride parade.

Transgender Rights, Won Over Decades, Face New Restrictions

More than 50 years after the Stonewall uprising marked the birth of a movement for LGBTQ+ rights, transgender activists continue to push for inclusion.
A black-and-white frame of a crowd of police officers confronting strikers - beating them with clubs.

When Unions and Police Clash: The Memorial Day Massacre You May Not Know About

Decades ago, labor protests, picketing and strikes often led to violent confrontations between activists and police, although that almost never happens today.
Two female U.S. Army soldiers relax on an army vehicle in Iraq.

The Iraq War’s Legacies for Women in Combat

The armed forces continue to grapple with integrating women into an institution historically designed for men.
A hand holds out multiple small, rolled up trans flags.

All Americans Have the Right to Dress Exactly How They Want

The key to a successful legal campaign is realizing that gender freedom benefits everyone.
Jonathan Big next to cover of "King: A Life."

Restoring the Real, Radical Martin Luther King Jr. in “King: A Life”

A new biography of King emerges at a "critical juncture" for his legacy.
Collage showing people gathering at the site of school shootings.

The Second Generation of School Shootings

The fear that overtook us that day in 1988 was unfamiliar to most Americans. Now all too many know how it feels.
A woman behind bars, and hands writing.

A History of Incarceration by Women Who Have Lived Through It

The members of the Indiana Women’s Prison History Project scrutinize official records not only for what they reveal, but also for what they omit.
U.S. Supreme Court building, left, and Kurt Vonnegut, right.

The Largely Forgotten Book Ban Case That Went Up to the Supreme Court

Library book bans are fueling national fights and a new Florida lawsuit. But only one case has come before the Supreme Court: Island Trees v. Pico.
Hari Kondabolu and Hank Azaria.

What’s Missing in the Discussion About Race Sparked by Apu in ‘The Simpsons’

The history of Sephardic Jews challenges our ideas about race in America.
Linda Brown Smith, Ethel Louise Belton Brown, Harry Briggs, Jr., and Spottswood Bolling, Jr., 1964

Brown v. Board of Education: Annotated

The 1954 Supreme Court decision, based on the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, declared that “separate but equal” has no place in education.
A police dog attacks 15-year-old Walter Gadsden during a civil rights demonstration in Birmingham, May 3, 1963.

Birmingham’s Use of Dogs on Civil Rights Protesters Shocked Liberal Onlookers

But the backstory was all-American.
Collage of Holmesburg Prison aerial view with a gloved hand picking up a medical vial in the foreground.

Holmesburg Prison's Medical Experiments Are Philadelphia's 'Lasting Shame'

For over 20 years, Dr. Albert Kligman experimented on incarcerated men at Philadelphia's Holmesburg Prison. Those who profited have yet to redress the harm.
Enrique Tarrio, the Proud Boys chairman, at a rally in Portland, 2020.

The Myth of the Lone Wolf Latino

The alleged shooter in Allen, Texas, isn’t the first nonwhite proponent of white supremacy.
Denise Lajimodiere stands in an empty room of a former American Indian boarding school.

Forced into Federal Boarding Schools as Children, Native Americans Confront the Past

Native Americans demand accountability for a federal policy that aimed to erase Indigenous culture.
A microphone animated as a black snake.

The Dark Side of Defamation Law

A revered Supreme Court ruling protected the robust debate vital to democracy—but made it harder to constrain misinformation. Can we do better?
Martin Luther King Jr. with other activists and children.

Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Perilous Power of Respectability

We revere the man and revile the strategy, but King knew what he was doing.
Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas leading Washington Post editors on a hike along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, as part of his campaign to prevent the construction of a highway along its route, Maryland, 1954.

The Frontier Justice

William O. Douglas was a strong advocate of conservation, but as a Supreme Court justice his involvement in such issues was often ethically questionable.
Carolyn Bryant with her husband, Roy Bryant, and their children during his trial in 1955.

Carolyn Bryant Donham Dies at 88; Her Words Doomed Emmett Till

She accused Emmett of accosting her. Her testimony led to acquittals of her husband and his half-brother in a murder that galvanized the civil rights movement.
A man with a raised fist poses by a portrait of Vincent Chin.

The Crime That Fueled an Asian American Civil Rights Movement

The 1982 attack against Vincent Chin redefined hate crimes and energized a push for today’s stronger legal protections.
Protester holding a sign that states, "To serve and protect who?" at a Black Lives Matter protest in 2020.

Has Black Lives Matter Changed the World?

A new book makes the case for a more pragmatic anti-policing movement—one that seeks to build working-class solidarity across racial lines.
Woman holding packages of naloxone.

The Nixon-Era Roots of Today’s Opioid Crisis

The Nixon administration saw methadone as a way to reduce crime rather than treat addiction.
Lithograph of African Americans gathering the dead and wounded from the Colfax Massacre in Louisiana, on April 13, 1873, originally published in Harper's Weekly.

The 1873 Colfax Massacre Was a Racist Attack on Black People’s Democratic Rights

In northern Louisiana, white supremacists slaughtered 150 African Americans, brutally thwarting their hopes for autonomy and self-governance.
Packets of Mifepristone, the abortion pill.

Judge Kacsmaryk’s Medication Abortion Decision Distorts a Key Precedent

One of the cases on which the judge relies said the opposite of what he claims it did.
Helen Hamilton Gardener circa 1920.

Intellectual, Suffragist and Pathbreaking Federal Employee: Helen Hamilton Gardener

Gardner's public service did not end with her lifelong advocacy for women's equality, but continued even after her death.
Demonstrators with signs supporting medication abortion.

Conservatives Are Turning to a 150-Year-Old Obscenity Law to Outlaw Abortion

With the Comstock Act of 1873 coming back to life, reproductive care, LGBTQ protections, and a host of other civil rights are now at risk.
Anthony Comstock.

One of the 19th Century’s Greatest Villains is the Anti-Abortion Movement’s New Hero

Anthony Comstock, the 19th-century scourge of art and sex, is suddenly relevant again thanks to Donald Trump’s worst judge.