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JCRED Hosts SCOTUS Program and Tom Goldstein

On Tuesday, October 1, 2013, the Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development and The Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development hosted a program at the Law School on the Supreme Court of the United States October Term 2013.

The event brought an audience of St. John’s Law students, faculty, and alumni together in the Belson Moot Court Room. After welcoming the attendees and participants, Dean Michael A. Simons introduced the event’s keynote speaker, noted U.S. Supreme Court advocate and scholar Thomas C. Goldstein. Mr. Goldstein, who is also the co-founder and publisher of the SCOTUSblog ──a widely popular blog offering comprehensive Supreme Court coverage ── then recognized St. John’s Law students Justin Wax-Jacobs ’15 and Joshua Goldman ’15, who took first and third place, respectively, in the 2013 Bloomberg Law-SCOTUSblog Supreme Court Challenge.

Testing knowledge of the Supreme Court and an ability to analyze legal decisions, the second annual Challenge gave law students the opportunity to compete against SCOTUSblog’s experts and other law students in forecasting the disposition of six merits cases and six petitions for certiorari before the Court in March 2013. Justin topped a field of 89 teams from 44 law schools around the country, as well as the SCOTUSblog team, to win the full $5000 first prize. Joshua came away with $1,500 for his third place win.

In his keynote remarks, Mr. Goldstein offered observations on the Supreme Court’s last term and its upcoming term. Focusing on the key role Justice Anthony Kennedy plays, Mr. Goldstein noted that, possessing “a very strong sense of individualism under the Constitution,” Justice Kennedy has aligned with both liberals and conservatives on the current Court. The October Term 2013 is notable for the opportunities it offers the Court’s conservative justices to overturn prior precedent ── including decisions written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor ── and to move the Court to the right. Mr. Goldstein also opined that, with some Justices approaching retirement, the next presidential election will be pivotal in reconfiguring an ideologically divided Court.

After the keynote address, Professor Leonard M. Baynes moderated a panel of St. John’s Law professors on the upcoming Supreme Court term. The engaging panel discussion showcased the Law School faculty’s timely and compelling scholarship on a range of constitutional law issues that come before the Court and that have a deep impact in the political arena, in national and international debate, and in the everyday lives of U.S. citizens. The panelists and their topics were:

Elaine M. Chiu, Professor of Law
Topic: Rosemond v. United States (Does aiding and abetting the use of a firearm during a violent or drug trafficking crime require proof of intent or simply knowledge?)

Marc O. DeGirolami, Associate Professor of Law; Associate Director, Center for Law and Religion
Topic: Town of Greece v. Galloway (Constitutionality of legislative prayer)

Margaret E. McGuinness, Professor of Law; Co-Director, St. John’s Center for International and Comparative Law
Topic: Bond v. United States (Federalism limits on Congress’s ability to legislate pursuant to the treaty power)

Janai S. Nelson, Professor of Law; Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship; Associate Director, The Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development
Topic: McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (Constitutionality of campaign finance limitations)

Rosemary C. Salomone, Kenneth Wang Professor of Law
Topic: Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action (Constitutionality of state referendum banning use of race and sex in university admissions)

“This was a very exciting event to organize and moderate,” said Professor Baynes. “Tom Goldstein provided a great deal of gravitas and inside knowledge about the upcoming Supreme Court term, while the panel of faculty experts shed light on key issues in constitutional law, such as criminal procedure, Congressional treaty power, campaign finance reform, affirmative action, and law and religion. The event not only offered our students a wonderful opportunity to learn more about forthcoming Supreme Court cases, it showed how our faculty’s scholarship has real-world relevance and importance.”