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February 19, 2008

Preview: The Federalist Society Student Symposium, March 7th & 8th

Submitted by The Federalist Society

The law school experience often saddles students with blinders which limit their view of the judicial system to interactions between lawyers, judges, statutes, and the “common” law. This March 7th and 8th, the Michigan Federalist Society will challenge that perspective by asking what role “we the People” retain in our constitutional order. We are delighted to host the 27th annual Federalist Society National Student Symposium, a gathering of hundreds of conservative and libertarian law students which will explore questions about popular referenda, the democratic legitimacy of the common law, and the merits of electing our judges. Entitled “The People & The Courts”, we think the Symposium will host one of the most impressive group of speakers to converge on the Law School in some time, and we hope to see plenty of our non-Federalists friends turn out to hear them.

The Federalist Society National Student Symposium is an annual gathering of Federalists from around the country hosted at a different venue each year. This year’s Symposium will be held in our own Hutchins Hall on the afternoon of Friday, March 7th and throughout the day on March 8th. Guests will enjoy four panels, a debate, and presentations by over 25 law professors, legal commentators, and respected jurists, including our very own Sherman Clark, Doug Laycock, Richard Primus, and Brian Simpson. The festivities will culminate in a Saturday evening banquet and keynote address by Judge Janice Rogers Brown, one of President Bush’s most prominent appointments to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

We hope that the law school community will embrace the vibrant discussion that the Symposium will bring to Michigan. Introductory remarks will begin at 6:30pm on Friday, March 7th and attendees will end the evening with the opportunity to interact with speakers and guests from other schools at a reception at the Michigan League. Attendees will reconvene at 9:00am on Saturday for a full day of panels and speeches, culminating in the banquet reception with a speech by Judge Brown. Anyone interested in registering for the Symposium and/or Banquet should contact FedSocSymposium2008@gmail.com or visit http://students.law.umich.edu/federalist/symposium/, where you can find more information about the event.

Symposium Events Include:
• “Judicial Interference with Community Values” – A panel discussion inquiring whether judicial review homogenizes community norms and jeopardizes the existence of unique community traditions and values. Featuring Professor Richard Garnett (Notre Dame); Professor Roderick Hills, Jr. (NYU); Professor Douglas Laycock (Michigan); and Professor Amy Wax (Penn).

• “The Merits of Electing Our Judges” – This debate will discuss whether increasing “judicial activism” calls into question our system of appointing federal judges. Participants include Chief Justice Tom Phillips (retired from the Texas Supreme Court) and Justice Harold See, of the Alabama Supreme Court.

• “Kelo, Grutter, and Popular Responses to Unpopular Decisions” – Michigan students are already familiar with the role that popular referenda have assumed as a means of reacting to Supreme Court decisions. Panelists will discuss grassroots responses to the Kelo and Grutter decisions and the merits of these popular efforts to shape jurisprudence. Panelists include Professor Sherman Clark (Michigan); Mr. Ward Connerly (Founder, American Civil Rights Institute); and Professor Marci Hamilton (Cardozo).

• “The People’s Common Law: Is Law & Economics Anti-Democratic?” – This panel will explore whether the ascendancy of the “law and economics” movement threatens the right of the people to govern their own private relationships by imposing market-driven values such as efficiency on the civil law. Panelists include Professor Robert Ellickson (Yale); Professor Brian Simpson (Michigan); and Professor Henry Smith (Yale).

• “An Originalist Judge and the Media” – Justice Stephen Markman, of the Michigan Supreme Court, will speak on the proper task of an “originalist judge,” and whether media coverage aids the public in understanding what judges should do. Commentators include Professor Richard Primus (Michigan) and Pete Williams, NBC’s Justice Department and Supreme Court correspondent.

• “Tradition and the People’s Constitution” – The final panel will discuss the role that tradition should play in interpreting public law—especially Constitutional interpretation. Do Constitutional doctrines rooted in tradition preserve “who we are,” or do they instead restrict individual liberties? Panelists include Professor William Eskridge (Yale); Professor Thomas Merrill (Columbia); Professor Reva Siegel (Yale); and Professor Keith Whittington (Princeton).

We hope to see you there!