On October 6, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Snyder v. Phelps. The case presents several questions about the application of various aspects of First Amendment doctrine to protesters at a military funeral. To discuss the case in this post-argument edition of SCOTUScast, we have Professor Calvin R. Massey, who is a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law.
Today, The New York Times reports, the Senate passed an overhaul of regulations aimed at increasing food safety in the United States. The bill passed by a vote of 73 to 25 and gives the Food and Drug Administration a broad array of new powers. The House passed its own version of the legislation earlier this year.
In response to outbreaks caused by contaminated food over the past few years, the bill raises standards at the plants of food suppliers, requiring that they write plans to safely make food and that they perform routine tests. It also gives the F.D.A. the power to force companies to recall their food, whereas the F.D.A. can only currently request recalls, and it increases the number of F.D.A. inspections at food processing plants. The legislation exempts small food producers from many of the new safety requirements.
The bill passed with bipartisan support, and with the support of both food-safety advocates and companies in the food industry, the latter of which seeks regulation in order to increase the appearance of safety in the American food industry. Sen. Tom Coburn, however, sought to alter the legislation, arguing that what is needed is less, not more, regulation of the food industry. His version of the bill failed in the Senate.
Robert Barnes wrote a piece for The Washington Post today about a debate at the recent Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention over calling a convention to amend the Constitution. The first "showcase panel" at the Convention, on "Enumerated Powers, the Tenth Amendment, and Limited Government," debated this issue (click here to see the video), with some saying that amendments were needed to keep the federal government from encroaching on state power and others arguing that the political process was the right domain in which to restrain the government.
Prof. Michael Stokes Paulsen of St. Thomas Law School argued that Congress had overstepped its constitutional bounds to the extent that the only way to remedy its intrusion into the authority of the states was for the states to call a convention to amend the Constitution. Both he and former Texas solicitor general R. Ted Cruz called for such a convention as a real possibility in the aftermath of the last election.
Cruz argued that amendments produced by such a convention should include a balanced budget amendment, a supermajority requirement for raising taxes, and giving the President the line-item veto.
Also on the panel were Harvard law professor Mark Tushnet and University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt, who both pushed back on the idea of such a convention. Tushnet argued that the concept of "amending the Constitution to preclude future democratic decision-making" was "a little puzzling," while Gerhardt asserted that these policy differences should be worked out in the political branches, not through the constitutional amendment process.
On Nov. 3, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn. The questions in this case were 1) whether a taxpayer has standing to challenge a state tuition tax credit as violating the Establishment Clause and 2) whether a state program that gives parents tax credits for tuition at private schools violates the Establishment Clause when many parents use the credits to pay for religious schooling.
To discuss the case, we have Joshua P. Thompson, who is a College of Public Interest Law Fellow at the Pacific Legal Foundation. Mr. Thompson was on an amicus brief in support of the petitioners.
The University of Virginia School of Law is hosting the 2011 Federalist Society National Student Symposium. The topic of the 2011 Symposium will be "Capitalism, Markets, and the Constitution." It will be held on Feb. 25th and 26th. Registration is now open here.
Last week at the National Lawyer's Convention, Congressman Mike Pence commented on the national debt, the rule of law, limited constitutional government, and the Federalist Society. Click above to see the interview.
At the National Lawyers Convention last week, Senator-elect Mike Lee discussed the Constitution, the role of judges, and the Federalist Society. Click above to see the interview.
The Federalist Society's National Lawyers Convention ended Saturday. Here is a media roundup of the Convention, with coverage from across the web:
- Politics Daily: Federalist Society Conclave Reflects Renewed Conservative Excitement: Matt Lewis comments on the increased attendance at the Convention and the country's "new-found excitement over constitutional issues" during and after the 2010 election cycle.
- The Washington Post: Scalia on cameras, retirement and the 'brave new world': Robert Barnes surveys CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford's interview with Justice Scalia at the Society's Annual Dinner at the Omni Shoreham Thursday.
- The Huffington Post: The Federalist Society: Where Are They Now?: Amanda Terkel gives an overview of The Federalist Society and gathers views from across the legal spectrum about the Society's efforts to increase dialogue about the law in this country.
- The Blog of Legal Times: Republican Leader Takes Victory Lap at Federalist Society: David Ingram covers the opening address of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who promised a "renewed commitment to constitutional conservatism," at the National Lawyers Convention.
- The Huffington Post: Mitch McConnell: I'm Counting on The Federalist Society To Help Us Get Health Care Reform Declared Unconstitutional: Amanda Terkel writes about Sen. McConnell's opening speech at the Convention, noting his support both of legislative efforts to repeal the law and of legal efforts to have the law overturned by the courts.
- The Huffington Post: Edward Kane on Dodd-Frank: Robert Teitelman reports on criticisms of Dodd-Frank from Edward Kane of Boston College and others, including C. Boyden Gray and John Shu, who recently published a paper discussing the constitutionality of the legislation.
The first Showcase Panel at the the Federalist Society's 2010 National Lawyers Convention was on "Enumerated Powers, the Tenth Amendment, and Limited Government" and was held on Thursday, November 18, 2010. Panelists included Prof. Randy E. Barnett of the Georgetown University Law Center; Hon. R. Edward "Ted" Cruz of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP; Prof. Michael J. Gerhardt, Director of the Center for Law and Government at the University of North Carolina School of Law; Prof. Michael Stokes Paulsen of the University of Saint Thomas School of Law; Prof. Mark V. Tushnet of Harvard University Law School; and Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, III, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Click on the video above to hear interviews with C. Boyden Gray, former ambassador to the European Union, and Prof. Ronald Levin, Washington University in St. Louis, at the National Lawyers Convention Friday about the constitutionality of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.
On Thursday, November 18, The Federalist Society held a panel on "Debating the Constitutionality of the Federal Health Care Legislation." The participants on the panel were Prof. Randy E. Barnett, Georgetown University Law Center; Hon. Richard Cordray, Ohio Attorney General; Prof. Charles Fried, Harvard University Law School and former Justice, Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts; and Mr. David B. Rivkin, Jr., Baker & Hostetler LLP. Hon. David R. Stras of the Minnesota Supreme Court moderated.
Click above to watch the address of Michael Barone, senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, Thursday at The Federalist Society's National Lawyers Convention.
Click above to see Lanny J. Davis, former counsel to President Clinton, respond to some questions about the regulation of the private sector at the National Lawyers Convention.
Click above to see Michael J. Madigan, former counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee, discuss regulation of the private sector at the National Lawyers Convention.
Senator Mitch McConnell opened The Federalist Society's National Lawyers Convention yesterday with an address on the outcome of the recent elections. Click above to see the video; stay tuned for more multimedia from the National Lawyers Convention.