On Friday, Sept. 25, and Saturday, Sept. 26, William & Mary Law School held its 28th annual Supreme Court Preview. Sponsored by the Institute of Bill of Rights Law (IBRL), the preview brings together journalists, professors, lawyers, judges and legal scholars each year to discuss and examine cases on the docket for the Supreme Court’s upcoming term.
The two-day conference commenced with a Moot Court session on Friday evening, which was followed on Saturday by panels focusing on a range of legal areas.
The Supreme Court preview marks a significant annual event for William & Mary, bringing together panelists with a vast range of knowledge, experience and expertise. Collectively, 16 of this year’s panelists have argued upward of 400 cases before the Supreme Court.
Cases that were argued during the Supreme Court’s past term include cases on same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act.
This year’s Moot Court case, Friedrichs et al, v. California Teachers Union et al., focused on freedom of speech in public sector unions. The panels, in turn, considered broad issues, such as executive power, the death penalty, abortion, voting rights, and affirmative action, and examined upcoming cases in the context of those broader issues.
A panel on executive power included University of California at Irvine Law School’s Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, Yale’s Andrew Pincus, Stanford’s Michael W. McConnell and David Savage of the Los Angeles Times.
Moderated by William & Mary Professor of Law Tara Grove, the panel discussed the scope and use of executive power by the President of the United States, focusing in particular on the case Texas v. United States, concerning U.S. immigration policy.
Other notable panelists included Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, former federal judges, distinguished scholars, and former U.S. Solicitors General, as well as notable journalists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.
“The Supreme Court Preview is always such an interesting event because it brings in the reporters who cover the Supreme Court, in addition to academics, lawyers, and judges,” said James Stern, an assistant professor of law at William & Mary. “I was especially glad to be able to serve as a judge on the moot court this year since it gave me the chance to sit with Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, who I worked for as a law clerk after graduating from Law School—an honor and a treat.”
The mission of the IBRL is to contribute to the ongoing national dialogue about issues relating to the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. One of the guiding philosophies of the Institute is the conviction that understanding of constitutional issues is enhanced significantly when experts from diverse disciplines—lawyers, journalists, historians, political scientists, economists, sociologists, and politicians—are brought together for serious discussion and debate. The Institute has been actively involved in its mission since 1982, when it was founded at the Law School.
The Supreme Court began its 2015 term on Monday, Oct. 5.
Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America's oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.