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IU law professor to appear on PBS' "The Supreme Court"

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Joseph Hoffmann, the Harry Pratter Professor of Law at the Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington, will appear on an unprecedented television series exploring the history, impact and drama of America's highest court. PBS' The Supreme Court airs Jan. 31 and Feb. 7 at 9 p.m. EST. (Check local listings.)

IU law professor Joseph Hoffmann appears in the upcoming PBS special on "The Supreme Court." A former clerk for the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, he found the interview a "wonderful opportunity" to reflect on Rehnquist's complex legacy.

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Hoffmann, who clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist from 1985 to 1986, was interviewed for episode four in the four-part series, "The Rehnquist Revolution." The one-hour episode investigates how the court, especially under the leadership of Chief Justice Rehnquist, rose in importance to become the institution most responsible for resolving the central questions of American life. The program also addresses the right to privacy, a key component in 1973's Roe v. Wade, as well as the surprising actions of an activist court in Bush v. Gore.

"I found the interview a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the complex and multifaceted legacy of William H. Rehnquist," Hoffmann said. "Rehnquist will go down in history as one of the most effective chief justices, universally liked and respected by his colleagues on the court. Moreover, although he never succeeded in overturning Roe v. Wade, he did manage to reshape modern American constitutional law, especially in the two key areas of federalism and criminal justice. Thus, I think it's appropriate for PBS to focus on the 'Rehnquist Revolution' as one of the most important periods in the modern history of the court."

Hoffmann is a nationally recognized expert on criminal procedure, habeas corpus and the death penalty, and he recently served as co-chair of the Massachusetts Governor's Council on Capital Punishment. The council released a report in May 2004 outlining 10 recommendations for the creation of a fair and accurate death-penalty system.

To learn more about Hoffmann, go to

To learn more about the upcoming series, go to