National Constitutional Celebration Planned

The State Bar of Georgia, led by its president, Charles L. Ruffin, will host a national celebration of the 225th anniversary of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution from March 12 through 14, 2014, at Atlanta’s Westin Hotel Buckhead. The event is co-sponsored by the Joseph Henry Lumpkin American Inn of Court. Several of the Inn’s Masters are on the planning committee.

The symposium will begin at 1 p.m. on Wednesday with Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of UCal-Irvine debating Professor Richard Epstein of NYU on the best ways of constitutional interpretation. Next, prominent legal historians will discuss the significance of the ratification process for the Constitution’s contemporary meanings. Participants will include Professor Akhil Amar of Yale, Dean Jack Pratt of South Carolina and Professor Melvin Urofsky of American. The final afternoon session will feature Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens and other state attorneys general. Olens and others like him are emerging as challengers of the constitutional boundaries of federal power, issues long dismissed as forgotten or irrelevant. After dinner, Pulitzer Prize winner and Medal of Freedom recipient David McCullough will address The Founding Fathers and the Founding Time.

Thursday morning starts with a reenactment of the historic Furman v. Georgia death penalty case, introduced by Anne Emmanuel with arguments by Stephen Bright and Anne Lewis before jurists from the Supreme Court of Georgia, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and Georgia’s Court of Appeals. Later, two of the most distinguished advocates before the Supreme Court of the United States, former Solicitors General Paul Clement and Seth Waxman, will share insights about important constitutional questions that have, or may soon, confront the Court. After lunch, National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg and the New York Times’ Adam Liptak will discuss the nuances of presenting constitutional questions for public consumption. Later, prominent academic bloggers Jack Balkin, Michael Dorf and Eugene Volokh will discuss the role of net-based colloquy in providing citizen forums for broadening constitutional conversation. Then, a panel led by Charles Shanor of Emory will examine National Security and Liberty in an Insecure Age. A simultaneous panel, led by Georgia State’s Eric Segall and featuring George Washington’s Bob Cottrol, Texas’s Sandy Levinson, George Mason’s Nelson Lund, and UCLA’s Adam Winkler, will debate Gun Rights and Regulation.

Friday morning’s first session will feature a discussion by Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice David Nahmias of the Supreme Court of Georgia and Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. From the perspective of courts owing deference to decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, they will discuss how constitutional interpretation and meanings have bearing on their work.

The final session will feature Justice Antonin Scalia, confirmed, and Justice Stephen Breyer, tentatively confirmed, speaking to the attendees about the Constitution and its meanings. The proceedings will conclude about noon on March 14.

For more information or if you have specific questions, please feel free to contact Steve Harper, icle@iclega.org.