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Advisory Opinions

Author: The Dispatch

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Advisory Opinions is a new podcast from The Dispatch. Hosts David French and Sarah Isgur have a weekly conversation about the law, culture, and why it matters.

433 Episodes
Sarah and David discuss the laws of war in response to Israel’s successful hostage rescue operation in Gaza before turning to the latest First Amendment drama from the 1st Circuit. The Agenda: —Laws of war and the Israeli hostage rescue operation —Materially disruptive speech and t-shirts —Health check on the Constitution —Far-right says freedoms are under attack Show Notes: —David’s critique of Israel in the NYT —Angry cheerleader case —Justice Brennan opinion in 1970s book banning case —Tinker v. Des Moines Advisory Opinions is a production of The Dispatch, a digital media company covering politics, policy, and culture from a non-partisan, conservative perspective. To access all of The Dispatch’s offerings—including Sarah’s Collision newsletter, weekly livestreams, and other members-only content—click here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The 3-3-3 Body Problem

The 3-3-3 Body Problem


No Rahimi decision yet … but Sarah and David have the next best thing: math! The two dive into Sarah’s recent POLITICO piece in which she and Dean Jens used data to analyze the Supreme Court. The Agenda: —The three-body problem —Was Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization radical? —Moneyballing the court —“Right to counsel” at the 9th Circuit —Racial discrimination in contracting —Test cases are test cases —Judge Newsom’s “unusual” concurrence —Judge Easterbrook on fonts —The health of the Constitution Show Notes: —Truck Insurance Exchange v. Kaiser Gypsum —Connelly v. United States —Becerra v. San Carlos Apache Tribe —National Rifle Association of America v. Vullo —Allen v. Milligan —New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen —Creative LLC v. Elenis —Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission —Chief Justice John Roberts’ thoughts on AI —Pacific Legal Foundation Advisory Opinions is a production of The Dispatch, a digital media company covering politics, policy, and culture from a non-partisan, conservative perspective. To access all of The Dispatch’s offerings—including Sarah’s Collision newsletter, weekly livestreams, and other members-only content—click here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sarah and David detail Hunter Biden’s legal predicament and discuss the impact it will have on the political landscape. Is this coercive bargaining in action? The Agenda: —Food poisoning etiquette —Hunter Biden's federal case —Prosecuting Donald Trump —Abortion opinion out of Texas Supreme Court —Insights into the Supreme Court’s decision-making process —SCOTUS watch Show Notes: —Steve Calabresi for the Volokh Conspiracy —Sarah's piece for the New York Times Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Akhil Amar, Sterling Professor of Law at Yale University, joins Sarah and David to read between the lines of the Constitution to find and define unenumerated rights. Be sure to check out his books, America's Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By and The Words that Made Us: America's Constitutional Conversation, 1760-1840. And stick around after the interview for a brief Alito flag update. —Akhil Amar’s two-tier theory of jurisdictions —AO episode with Judge Newsom mentioning unenumerated rights —Ezra Klein's article on the Second Amendment —District of Columbia v. Heller —McDonald v. City of Chicago —New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen —Akhil Amar's podcast —NRA v. Vullo decision —Casey Mattox's tweet on NRA v. Vullo —SCOTUS clears the way for Louisiana to use a new congressional map Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In an emergency live dispatch, Sarah and David discuss the historic verdict in Trump's New York hush money case. Expect to hear sentencing expectations, appeal efforts, and how voters will reach. Show Notes: -Mike and Sarah’s Collision newsletter on the outcome of the case Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
On Racial Redistricting

On Racial Redistricting


Sarah gives us a taste of her interview with retired Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer before she and David dive into the latest SCOTUS ruling on racial gerrymandering. The Agenda: —Justice Breyer and the Major Questions Doctrine —Alexander v. South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP —Conduct vs. speech and Morgan Wallen’s Nashville bar —Random swipes at text, history, and tradition from David —Approving a SCOTUS nominee from opposing parties? —Amending the amendment process —Codifying the judicial filibuster —Justice Samuel Alito flag watch Show Notes: —Previous AO episode on voting rights in Alabama —City of Austin v. Reagan National Advertising of Austin, LLC —Equal Protection Clause —Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
When to Recuse

When to Recuse


Is Justice Alito a secret election denier? Is his wife chronically online? Were these allegations the point of a New York Times article about hanging the American flag upside down? Or is this a nothingburger? Sarah and David discuss. The Agenda: —Appearances of impropriety —Husbands: What would you do if someone called your wife the C-word? —Asserting executive privilege over audio recordings —No, Zina Bash did not make a white power symbol —Nixon tapes and Biden’s interview —The opposite of a nationwide injuction —Tacos are sandwiches —Tacos are not sandwiches —David on how to deal with bullies Show Notes: —Results: ACLI Capital Challenge —Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Trump's taxes —Judge Stephen Reinhardt refuses to recuse in 9th Circuit case —"Trump faker" accusation —Hur/Biden transcripts —Akhil Amar: "Second Thoughts" Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Do judges have an important role to play in society beyond judging? Judge Lee Rudofsky takes the affirmative, while Orin Kerr disagrees in this special AO episode debating this topic. Sarah and David also discuss the latest SCOTUS cases. Show Notes: —Judges write letter saying they won't hire law clerks from Columbia —Kerr: Do Judges "Have an Important Role to Play in Our Society" Beyond Judging? —Code of Conduct for United States Judges —Staying Off the Sidelines: Judges as Agents for Justice System Reform —Appearances by Sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justices at Congressional Committee and Subcommittee Hearings (1960-2022) —Drops in Jewish enrollment in elite universities —CFPB v. Community Financial Services Association of America, Limited —Are tacos and burritos sandwiches? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Presidential Stakes

Presidential Stakes


Sarah and David start things off with a discussion of Trump’s trials and how he might respond to the outcome of the election. Are David’s concerns overblown? The Agenda: —Trump’s New York trial —Chilling speech over anti-Israel protests and one law school dean's private dinner party —Mocking Michael Cohen —Civil forfeiture SCOTUS ruling —AYER ruling —When prison guards shave a Rastafarian's dreads —Firing gay teachers Show Notes: —Trial of Ted Stevens Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Eleventh Circuit Judge Kevin Newsom takes over the role as professor to teach Sarah and David the implications of jurisdiction stripping and the balance of power between the branches of government. We’ll sum the lesson up as … Congress, do your job. The Agenda: —Judges say they won’t hire from Columbia Law School —Explaining the exceptions clause —Constraints over jurisdiction stripping by Congress —Marbury powers —Congress taking a more active role in constitutional interpretations Show Notes: —David for the NYT: The Magic Constitutionalism of Donald Trump —Felker v. Turpin —Sheldon v. Sill —Judge Newsom's mention of Bruen in the AO episode from June 2022 —Judiciary Act of 1979 —Akhil Amar's two-tier theory of jurisdictions —Daniel Epps' article in Columbia Law Review —Monday’s AO podcast —Henry Hart’s dialogue with self in the Harvard Law Review Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Originalism v. Common Law

Originalism v. Common Law


Judge Edmund Sargus from the Southern District of Ohio joins Sarah and David to take on originalism and different means of constitutional interpretation. The Agenda: —Brown v. Board of Education and the different judicial philosophies that can be applied to the case —Originalism vs. common law traditionalism —Challenges and limitations of textualism and originalism —Landmark cases and the Supreme Court’s decisions shaping societal progress —Interpreting ambiguous constitutional terms like ‘equal protection’ and ‘due process’ —Thus ends DEI Show Notes: —Plessy v. Ferguson —Rutan v. Republican Party —Bostock v. Clayton County —Loving v. Virginia —A blast from the past: Rep. James A. Traficant found guilty of corruption —David for the NYT: The Magic Constitutionalism of Donald Trump —Seceding from Secession: The Civil War, Politics, and the Creation of West Virginia —Fifth Circuit opinion from Judge Andrew Oldham Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Tears of Scrutiny

Tears of Scrutiny


It’s a silent spring in Texas as Pornhub pulls out of the state in an act of protest over a law requiring age verification measures. Sarah and David go through the legal battle between the explicit site and Texas AG Ken Paxton.The Agenda: —Sarah’s high —Texas law requiring age verification to access pornography online —The tiers of scrutiny in constitutional law —The role of text, history, and tradition —Going through the Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2023 —Understanding the differences between Medicare and Medicaid can be challenging, even for lawmakersShow Notes: —Sarah’s Remnant episode —Jacobellis v. Ohio —Ginsberg v. New York —Ashcroft v. ACLU —Child Online Protection Act —Wickard v. Filburn Wilker —United States v. Carolene Products Company —David for NYT: Ban Online Porn for Kids —David for NYT: One Party Has a Serious Foreign Policy Problem. The Other Has a Tantrum. —A class-action lawsuit against Columbia Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
David returns after a brief food poisoning hiatus to discuss two oral arguments heard before the Supreme Court: Trump’s immunity case and Idaho’s case on abortion bans. But first, a request from The Dispatch’s resident Wilson-hater. The Agenda: —Are solo podcasters sociopaths? —Proposals for changes on the Israeli Supreme Court —Absolute immunity for presidents —The role of the executive vesting clause —Reviewing Idaho’s abortion ban —Time, place, and manner restrictions on college campuses —Answering questions and issuing corrections Show Notes: —Previous AO episode —South Dakota v. Dole —NFIB v. Sebelius —Dr. Martin Luther King on “civil disobedience” —Columbia University banned student protester over saying “Zionists don’t deserve to live” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The Supreme Court this week heard oral arguments for Donald Trump’s immunity case, and David has thoughts. However, he was too sick to join today so Sarah had to go solo (Ruminant style!), recapping the legal and political implications of the case, assessing the strength of the arguments and their significance for the future of our political system, and trying to imagine where we go from here in this bizarre election cycle. The Agenda: —Good and bad news for Trump —What presidential acts are immune? —Impeachment and conviction —Going through the specific charges —Can Trump stage a coup? —ANSWER THE HYPOTHETICALS! —Defining official acts —The effect on Trump’s other cases —The effect on SCOTUS as an institution Show Notes: —Bonus Collision newsletter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sarah and David discuss oral arguments in Grants Pass v. Johnson, a Supreme Court case addressing the issue of homeless people camping on public property, as well as and the 4th Circuit ruling that blocked West Virginia's law blocking transgender athletes from participating in sports. The Agenda: —SCOTUS hears Grants Pass v. Johnson —Necessity defense and cannibalism —4th Circuit ruling on trans sports ban in West Virginia —SCOTUS rules on Title VII case —Biden expands Title IX ruling —Campus due process and Columbia protesters Show Notes: —Casey Mattox on local governments stopping churches from helping the homeless Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
There’s not much worth discussing yet in Donald Trump’s criminal trial in New York, so Sarah and David focus on the Supreme Court and a case on Idaho’s law restricting gender-transition treatment for minors. Plus: Murmurs about Clarence Thomas’ brief absence. The Agenda: —Election law crimes, tax crimes, and falsification of business records —Challenges of broad injunctions —Idaho’s Vulnerable Child Protection Act —SCOTUS exhausted with emergency docket applications —Justices call to retire universal injunctions —January 6 arguments before SCOTUS —SCOTUS declines to intervene in a police lawsuit against a Black Lives Matter activist —Obstructions in official proceedings —Legal issues in the Iran-Israel conflict Show Notes: —Labrador v. Poe —Counterman v. Colorado —18 U.S. Code § 1512 - Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Co-authors Jack Goldsmith and Bob Bauer join the podcast to discuss their book, After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency, and the need to reform presidential power. But first, a protest and a dinner party at a Berkeley Law School dean's house. Did the location qualify as a public forum? Sarah and David evaluate. The Agenda: —Dean of Berkeley Law School and a Palestinian Protest: 1A protection? —How to go about civil disobedience —Reforming the Insurrection Act —The need for bipartisan support in reforming presidential powers —Did Donald Trump abuse the pardon power as president? —Special counsels and the fear of rigging prosecutions Show Notes: —The Logan Act —The American Law Institute —David's Sunday column Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sarah and David explain the jury questionnaire in Alvin Bragg’s case against Donald Trump before getting into the weeds of the origins of originalism. The Agenda: —How to select a jury for Trump —Celebrity trial jury instructions —Biden swings again at student loan forgiveness —Did the Warren court birth originalism? —Originalism vs. platonic idealism —More questions from a high schooler —How do judicial ethics actually work? —The myth of the 6-3 court —The most important SCOTUS decisions Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Jack Smith Scolds Judge

Jack Smith Scolds Judge


Things get heated in Trump’s classified documents case. In a court filing this week in Donald Trump’s classified documents case, special counsel Jack Smith challenged Judge Aileen Cannon by vowing to appeal any decision that included the Presidential Record Act in jury instructions. David and Sarah discuss Smith's public move and what it means for the case. The Agenda: —Sarah's recaps her defamation law musical experience —Justice Sotomayor's age raises questions about the right time for Justices to retire —Is Trump's defense counsel actually good? —Jack Smith's frustration with Judge Aileen Cannon —Answering questions from high school students —Yes, we're still discussing work-life balance Show Notes: —Presidential Records Act —New York Times Company v. Sullivan Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sarah and David dive into two op-eds challenging the Federalist Society and the call for lawyers to uphold the tradition of liberty under law. The Agenda: —Mayfield v. Butler, retaliation, and political targeting —Risks and challenges facing the Federalist Society —Did Trump-era advances in jurisprudence come at a deep civic cost? —The Thomas’ article on the judicial filibuster —Will Peter Navarro’s attempts to evade jail time succeed? (Spoiler: No) —Sarah and David answer work-life balance questions Show Notes: —Villareal v. City of Laredo —Gonzalez v. Trevino —Justice Breyer's bookshelf —Advisory Opinions podcast on Federal Judges visiting Israel Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Comments (14)

STEVEN Ericson

Sarah I think you're incredible except when it comes to commenting about people's age and living through the dark ages of rotary phones. smiling obviously Steve 72😏😊🤗😎

Apr 24th

Chris L'Hommedieu

Israeli IDF is more cautious than the US military??? Are you freaking kidding me? This is the greatest destruction since WWII this is an utter BS "interview".

Apr 4th


David is the troll

Mar 9th
Reply (1)

Ellen Munter

No, Taylor states that she left her scarf and he kept it. Which isn't theft. And the song is only 10 minutes long. Just saying.

Feb 25th

Gail G

I would be interested to hear from David how individuals can support Ukraine.

Jun 13th

Golden boy

French the rhino. Pedophile enabler

Jun 27th

Douglas Fitch

Sarah, Try the BK chicken sandwich. Really one of the best.

Jun 8th

Andrew Xu

This podcast deserves more traction.

Feb 17th

Eliza Howarth

whoa. she is way out of line and totally illogical with her whataboutism re: Abrahms & saying it's identical to the Trump campaign to invalidate the national election

Dec 7th


So boring.

Oct 24th

Michael Mount

Sarah Isgur is a moron.

Sep 17th
Reply (1)

Debi Simons

PLEASE, PLEASE. PLEASE, SARAH--STOP INTERRUPTING. Sorry about the all caps, but it drives me crazy. People don't interrupt you!

Jun 5th