Balls & Strikes publishes original commentary and reporting about courts, the judges who preside over them, and the legal system they uphold.
Its coverage is premised on the reality that interpreting the law is an inherently political act with real-world consequences: Throughout American history, court decisions have fueled devastating economic inequality, hollowed out democracy, blessed all forms of state-sanctioned discrimination, and erected countless barriers to the cause of racial justice. For all its lofty rhetoric, the legal system is and has always been less concerned with protecting the rights of everyday people than it is with enabling wealthy and powerful interests to exploit them.
Balls & Strikes seeks to hold courts, judges, and members of the legal profession accountable for their failures to fulfill their professed commitment to the cause of justice, and to facilitate some long-overdue conversations about how to make the legal system better, or at the very least, marginally less worse. In addition to its coverage of the Court and the courts, Balls & Strikes also publishes analysis of the judicial nomination and confirmation processes, the ongoing debate over reform proposals, and other stories at the intersection of law, policy, and politics.
Balls & Strikes borrows its name from now-Chief Justice John Roberts, who famously outlined his vision of judicial modesty by describing the proper role of a judge as “to call balls and strikes, and not to pitch or bat.” This metaphor omits key facts that every Little Leaguer knows: Umpires use different strike zones, apply them flexibly, and are entrusted with a tremendous amount of power and near-unlimited discretion in its exercise. Balls & Strikes’s coverage will highlight how the myth of judicial objectivity confers a sense of legitimacy upon unjust, undemocratic outcomes, which is precisely why so many powerful people work so hard to uphold it.
Balls & Strikes is sponsored by Demand Justice, a nonprofit organization that works on court reform efforts, judicial nominations, and related issues. All opinions expressed on the site are solely those of the bylined author, and do not necessarily represent the views or reflect the specific advocacy goals of Demand Justice.