Federalist Society National Student Symposium to Feature Supreme Court Justice Thomas, Leading Conservative Legal Scholars Schedule

February 17, 2011

The annual Federalist Society Student Symposium, one of the nation's largest gatherings of conservative legal scholars and students, will be held at the University of Virginia School of Law and the Boar's Head Inn on Feb. 25-26.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will deliver the keynote address during the 30th annual symposium's banquet dinner at the Boar's Head Inn on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m.

Clarence Thomas
Justice Clarence Thomas will deliver the keynote address at the Boar's Head Inn.

All events at the School of Law are open to the public, but events at the Boar's Head Inn are closed to the media. Guests can register online; registration is required for meals and receptions. Virginia Bar Continuing Legal Education credit will be available to practicing attorneys who sign up for it at the registration table.

The Federalist Society's annual student symposium is sponsored by a student chapter in an American law school each year and attracts leading conservative and libertarian scholars, judges and attorneys from across the nation.

Other symposium speakers this year include Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Judge Debra Livingston of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Diane Sykes of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and John Allison, former chairman and CEO of BB&T Corporation.

UVA law professors Paul Stephan and G. Edward White and Law School Dean Paul G. Mahoney are also serving on panels, along with: Jonathan Adler (Case Western Reserve University); Michael Heller (Columbia University); Randy Barnett and Louis Michael Seidman (Georgetown University); Nelson Lund, Jeremy Rabkin, Neomi Rao and Todd Zywicki (George Mason University); Jeffrey Rosen and Renee Lettow Lerner (George Washington University); Clayton Gillette (New York University); John McGinnis (Northwestern University); William P. Marshall (University of North Carolina); and James Ely (Vanderbilt University).

The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to the U.S. Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be. The society seeks both to promote an awareness of these principles and to further their application through its activities.

All events will be held at the Law School except where noted.

3:30 p.m. Registration (Caplin Auditorium Lobby)
6:15 p.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks (Caplin Auditorium)

Dean Paul Mahoney, University of Virginia School of Law

6:30 p.m. Debate(Caplin Auditorium)

Economic Freedoms and the Constitution
Since West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish and the end of the Lochner Era, the Supreme Court has adhered to the belief that [t]he Constitution does not speak of freedom of contract." But is this commitment consistent with an original understanding of the Constitution? This panel will address whether the Constitution permits the extensive state regulation of economic affairs. Even if Lochner as a decision was illegitimate, has the Supreme Court retreated too far in protecting economic liberties from state interference? Is the Constitution a thoroughly libertarian document or is it compatible with a high degree of state regulation? Does either understanding come with any limiting principles? If so, what is their source? In any event, is it desirable for a constitution to constrain the power of the state in the area of redistribution and economic regulation?

Randy Barnett, Georgetown University Law Center
Jeffrey Rosen, George Washington University Law School

Judge Debra Livingston, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

8 p.m. PANEL I(Caplin Auditorium)

Economic Theory, Civic Virtue and the Meaning of the Constitution
Justice Holmes' dissent in Lochner v. New York is well-known for the statement, [A] constitution is not intended to embody a particular economic theory, whether of paternalism and the organic relation of the citizen to the State or of laissez faire." But is this belief consistent with the original Constitution? To what extent did the ideas of thinkers such as Adam Smith shape the founders' understanding of human nature and public virtue? In what ways do their economic and philosophical commitments continue to shape our constitutional government today? Are capitalism and a commitment to civic virtue complementary or antagonistic? Does the Constitution promote a virtuous citizenry or is it simply a set of political structures that can accommodate a pluralistic society? At a time when the virtues of capitalism are often called into question, it will be useful to examine the precise place of this theory in the foundational structures of our government.

Dr. James Ely, Vanderbilt University Law School
Renee Lettow Lerner, George Washington University Law School
Nelson Lund, George Mason University School of Law
G. Edward White, University of Virginia School of Law

Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

9:45 p.m. Cocktail Reception(Caplin Pavilion)
8 a.m. Continental Breakfast (Withers-Brown Hall)
9 a.m. PANEL II(Caplin Auditorium)

Federalism and Interstate Competition
This panel will assess American federalism as a competitive institution that offers a marketplace of state regulatory regimes. With the recession impacting some states more heavily than others, it is time to ask whether interstate competition is good for the nation. Should state-by-state approaches to issues such as healthcare, financial regulation, environmental protection, and same-sex marriage be encouraged? Does competition among the states lead to the best outcome or a race to the bottom? How will events such as the recent recession and healthcare reform impact the marketplace of state regulation?

Jonathan Adler, Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Clayton Gillette, New York University School of Law
John McGinnis, Northwestern University School of Law
Louis Michael Seidman, Georgetown University Law School

Judge William H. Pryor Jr., 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

11 a.m.

Speech(Caplin Auditorium)

The U.S. Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences

John Allison, Former Chairman and CEO, BB&T Corporation

Introduction by Howard Husock, Manhattan Institute

Many politicians have blamed business for the current recession, leading to additional measures by the U.S. government to regulate the market. Some critics argue that the Federal Reserve's missteps in managing the monetary system created an economic bubble. That bubble pervaded the real estate market in part through relaxed lending standards promulgated by the government-sponsored enterprises Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. When the bubble inevitably deflated, the crisis spread to the general economy, resulting in high unemployment and negative or slow economic growth. But will the measures the government took to stem the crisis and regulate the market reduce economic growth in the long term? John Allison will outline the fundamental economic and philosophical solutions to these problems in his presentation.

12:30 p.m. Lunch (Withers-Brown Hall)
2 p.m. PANEL III(Caplin Auditorium)

The Welfare State and American Exceptionalism
With the recent passage of President Barack Obama's health care legislation, it is time to reassess whether it is possible to have a welfare state that meshes with the American constitutional tradition. Is the enduring presence of government entitlements antithetical to our system of government or is there a way to accommodate these programs without changing the historical American relationship between the individual and the government? Will the growing role of government in the United States cause the country to increasingly mirror Europe or can the nation chart an alternate course? If the latter, what would it look like? Does the U.S. Constitution's relative lack of positive rights compared to its counterparts around the world pose problems for proponents of an American welfare state? Is the American suspicion toward state entitlements the product of a longstanding philosophical commitment or the result of historical contingency? Are there currently any constitutional limits on the growth of the welfare state? Should there be?

Michael Heller, Columbia Law School
William P. Marshall, University of North Carolina School of Law
Jeremy Rabkin, George Mason University School of Law
Neomi Rao, George Mason University School of Law

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

4 p.m. PANEL IV(Caplin Auditorium)

Economic Uncertainty and the Role of the Courts
This panel will assess the role of the courts in an uncertain economic climate. Given the financial troubles plaguing the United States, how much emphasis should the judiciary place on the constitutional protection of private property? In a difficult economic climate, should a judge's empathy for those in financial distress affect his rulings? If a state defaults on its obligations, what is the appropriate role of the courts? Should a refusal to pay constitute a violation of the Takings Clause? On a broader level, to what extent do interpretive methods have financial consequences? How much stock do investors put in stability in judicial reasoning when choosing where to place their money? Does our current law protect private property too much or not enough to maximize social utility, and should that be the standard by which we judge the legal protection of property rights? Does the experience of other countries offer any lessons in this area?

Paul Mahoney, University of Virginia School of Law
Paul Stephan, University of Virginia School of Law
Todd Zywicki, George Mason University School of Law

Judge Diane Sykes, 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

6 p.m. Cocktail Reception(Boar's Head Inn)
7 p.m. banquet and keynote speech(Boar's Head Inn)
Justice Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court


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