Short Circuit

We Read 6,000 Legal Opinions So You Don’t Have To

Bob and Addie Harte lived through an American nightmare. One early morning in 2012, they were woken up by a SWAT team breaking down their door, trashing their home and terrorizing their children for two hours—all because police mistook Addie’s loose tea leaves for marijuana. Bob, Addie and their lawyer recounted in vivid detail what happened that morning at the Hartes’ suburban Kansas home on a recent special edition of IJ’s popular Short Circuit podcast.

IJ launched Short Circuit in 2015, and it has turned into an important resource for legal minds and anyone interested in the courts. The podcast features everything from in-depth longform stories about individual court cases—like the Hartes’ lawsuit to hold the police accountable for raiding their home—to rapid-fire legal analysis of several noteworthy cases. Each podcast episode is downloaded over 1,500 times: a remarkable reach for a podcast about law and liberty.

The podcast is just another way IJ supporters can stay informed about what is going on in the broader legal world. Each week, IJ scours the federal court dockets for the most interesting and important appeals court opinions addressing individual liberty. Then every Friday afternoon, we share short, easy-to-understand descriptions of these cases with subscribers of our wildly popular Short Circuit email newsletter.

Among Short Circuit’s more than 3,000 subscribers are some of the leading thinkers of our day, including judges, columnists, reporters, lawyers and top law professors—not to mention law students and others interested in following the goings-on of the federal courts.

Among the newsletter’s more than 3,000 subscribers are some of the leading thinkers of our day, including judges, columnists, reporters, lawyers and top law professors—not to mention law students and others interested in following the goings-on of the federal courts. And Short Circuit’s success keeps growing: The Washington Post began re-posting Short Circuit on its website last year, introducing IJ to an even broader audience.

What explains the broad appeal of Short Circuit? In part, major news outlets frequently focus on high-profile U.S. Supreme Court cases, but the reality is that the High Court only reviews about 80 cases each year. Compare that to the 6,000 cases published by federal appeals courts last year alone. For the overwhelming majority of litigants, the lower federal appeals courts are the final stop on the road to justice.

Short Circuit fans keep coming back for more because they trust that IJ staff will read every single federal appeals court opinion (yes, all 6,000 last year!) and report on the most important cases with engaging, efficient summaries. Over the past two years, we have reported on more than 2,000 federal appeals court cases.

Keeping current on our courts does not have to be time consuming and it does not have to be boring: It just requires that you visit
www.ij.org/short-circuit to subscribe.

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