TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Pepperdine Law Review Symposium:  The Supreme Court, Politics And Reform


The United States Supreme Court has long been criticized for injecting politics into its decision-making instead of adhering to the rule of law. Yet the recent events surrounding President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Court, and the successful gamble of the Senate Republicans to refuse to hold confirmation hearings in hopes that the presidential election would allow their party to fill the seat, has cast this criticism into even starker relief.

But has the confirmation process become so dysfunctional and contentious because the Court itself has become unduly political? Or has the Court become unduly political because of external political pressures? Or has the Court remained faithful to the rule of law while political tempests attempt to threaten its independence as an institution of laws? And if for whatever reason the Court has become unduly political, what reforms can best address this problem? At this symposium, renowned legal scholars, and past and present judges, will explore these questions which remain critical to maintaining a proper separation of powers in our constitutional system.

We hope you can join us for this important and exciting debate that will feature lead presenters Akhil Amar (Yale), Erwin Chemerinsky (Dean, UC-Irvine), Michael McConnell (Stanford), Richard Posner (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit), and Mark Tushnet (Harvard). A LiveStream of the symposium is available here.

Opening Address (8:45 a.m. PST):  Michael McConnell (Stanford)

Presentation (9:45 a.m.):  Hon. Richard Posner (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit)
Respondents:  Jennifer Chacon (UC-Irvine), Deanell Tacha (Dean, Pepperdine)

Presentation (11:00 a.m.):  Mark Tushnet (Harvard)
Respondents:  Paul Finkelman (Pittsburgh), Robert Pushaw (Pepperdine)

Luncheon Address: (12:00 p.m.):  Erwin Chemerinsky (Dean, UC-Irvine)

Presentation  (1:45 p.m.):  Akhil Amar (Yale)
Respondents:  Rebecca Brown (USC), Douglas Kmiec (Pepperdine)

Break-Out Sessions (3:45 p.m.):

  • Supreme Court Politicization: Historical Development:  Paul Finkelman (Pittsburgh), Josh Kastenberg (New Mexico), Rick Tepker (Oklahoma)
  • Supreme Court Politicization: Is the Court Unduly Political?:  Stephen Feldman (Wyoming), Warren Grimes (Southwestern), Bruce Ledewitz (Duquesne)
  • Supreme Court Reform: Restructuring the Court's Decision-Making Authority: Ian Bartrum (UNLV), Chris Bryant (Cincinnati), Jason Mazzone (Ilinois)
  • Supreme Court Reform: Modifying the Court's Decision-Making Methods:  Ariel Bendor (Bar-Ilan), Simona Grossi (Loyola-L.A.), Anthony Johnstone (Montana), Joshua Segev (Netanya)
  • Supreme Court Reform: Restructuring the Court and/or Appointments Process:  Richard Friedman (Michigan), Craig Jackson (Texas Southern), David Orentlicher (Indiana-McKinney), Eric Segall (Georgia State)

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