Picturing Justice, the On-Line Journal of Law and Popular Culture

The Court

Practicing lawyer shows are perennially popular, and series featuring trial court judges come and go, but in ABC's The Court, this year's television docket brings us a second series specifically devoted to Supreme Court Justices. The show stars Oscar winner Sally Field as a nominee to the Court, whose unanimous Senate confirmation comes during the course of the premiere.

Like CBS' First Monday (Fridays, 9-10 p.m., ET/PT), The Court introduces us to a justice who will be a "swing vote" on the Nation's highest bench. Ohio Governor Kathleen Nolan (Field) is a practicing Catholic who seems to be both tough on crime and supportive of women's issues (including abortion) although she declines to declare herself on either subject. Nominated by the President to fill an unexpected vacancy when a powerful woman Justice is killed in a car accident, she represents the focus for any number of legal, social and political debates that will play out during the series.

Contrast to the sometimes unreal activity of the Court and Capitol Hill is provided by her former law student and current gadfly journalist Harlan Brandt. Also like First Monday, The Court features a strong Chief, CJ Townsend (Pat Hingle), active, committed, opinionated law clerks (Nicole DeHuff, Hill Harper, and Josh Radnor), and Associate Justices of all persuasions, including an Hispanic (Miguel Sandoval), a black woman (Diahann Carroll) and a traditional Kennedy liberal (Chris Sarandon).

En banc review of The Court begins with the same slate that heard oral argument on First Monday. As usual we invite reader response about the show, our reviews, and the course of television justice.

The Court airs on ABC Tuesdays at 10 pm. (ET/PT). Website: http://abc.abcnews.go.com/primetime/thecourt/index.html

The Court update [May 10, 2002]: The Court has been placed on "broadcast hiatus." According to the ABC Entertainment Publicity Department, this means that the three produced-but-unaired shows will probably be shown at some time in the future. There was no available information about when the shows might air or whether any others will be produced.

Posted March, 2002

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