More Perfect


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4 stars
Intelligent podcast about the US Supreme Court's life-altering decisions

More Perfect is an spin-off of the popular Radiolab podcast that specifically focuses on US Supreme Court Decisions, from well-known cases like Citizens United vs. FEC to more obscure but highly consequential cases like Baker v. Carr. In the casual tone typical for Radiolab, each episode brings together many voices on a given case: plaintiffs, legal scholars, historians, activists, and so on. Jad Abumrad, the show’s host, tends to ask flippant questions along the lines of “How does this even make sense?”, channeling a bit of the everyman who knows little about the legal system.

If you’re thinking this premise makes for a dry program, you couldn’t be further from the truth. The court’s decisions have impacted the lives of millions, and the show succeeds in making that impact understandable, from parents fighting to keep their adopted daughter to civil rights activists mourning the loss of voting rights achievements through the landmark Shelby v. Holder case.

I have listened to a handful of episodes so far, and have very much enjoyed them. If I have one criticism, it is that the show can be a bit myopic at times, very much focused on looking at an issue from both sides (e.g., Edward Blum’s test case litigation, which is advancing a conservative agenda through the courts), without providing sufficient societal context: what is the likely impact of this litigation going to be? Who is driving this agenda? Who is benefiting from it? Naturally, some episodes do a better job at this than others.

Still, I recommend the podcast to anyone who cares about the US legal and political context; it provides valuable background about the court cases that made the news, the ones that made the history books, and the ones that didn’t (but should have).