- Professor Josh Blackman, South Texas Law
The final Showcase panel examines Justice Scalia's transformation of five very important areas of Supreme Court doctrine. First, Justice Scalia transformed freedom of expression doctrine by entrenching a rule of viewpoint neutrality in place of different tests for different kinds of speech. In the five to four flag burning cases, Justice Scalia teamed up with Justices Brennan and Marshall to protect political speech. In the five to four decision in Citizens United he did the same thing with a different block of Justices. In another five to four opinion, Justice Scalia recognized constitutional protection for hate speech in RAV v. City of St. Paul. He joined a summary affirmance of a Seventh Circuit opinion by Judge Frank Easterbrook banning Catherine MacKinnon's anti-pornography laws. Second, Justice Scalia revolutionized the law of the religion clauses by largely burying the Lemon test and leading the Supreme Court in affirming the constitutionality of education vouchers for religious schools. Third, Justice Scalia revolutionized the Second Amendment by finding that it protected an individual's right to bear arms to defend himself, and he was very libertarian and protective of criminal defendants' rights in his criminal procedure jurisprudence. Fourth, Justice Scalia surprised some observers with his criminal law and procedure opinions on searches, the Confrontation Clause, and more. Finally, Justice Scalia played what some describe as a unique role in standing, including in his opinion in Lexmark International, Inc. v. Static Control Components, Inc.
This panel was held on November 19, 2016, during the 2016 National Lawyers Convention in Washington, DC.
Showcase Panel IV: ROUNDTABLE: Areas of Constitutional Doctrine Transformed
2:45 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
The Mayflower Hotel
The Supreme Court's 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller recognized for the first time in our history that individual Americans have a right to gun ownership. Justice Scalia's opinion in Heller is widely regarded as a signal success for his originalist approach to constitutional interpretation. This panel will assess Heller's contribution to the law. How originalist was the opinion? Have the lower courts been faithful in applying Heller to issues outside its narrow holding? Is the Court likely to read Heller broadly or narrowly in the future?
This panel was held on November 18, 2016, during the 2016 National Lawyers Convention in Washington, DC.
Civil Rights: The Second Amendment: Enforcing the Heller Decision
12:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
The Mayflower Hotel
On March 21, 2016, the Supreme Court decided Caetano v. Massachusetts without oral argument.
Jamie Caetano was convicted of violating a Massachusetts law prohibiting possession of stun guns. On appeal, she claimed this law violated the Second Amendment, by infringing her right to possess a stun gun in public for the purpose of self-defense from an abusive ex-boyfriend. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts affirmed Caetano’s conviction, ruling that stun guns are not eligible for Second Amendment protection.
By a vote of 8-0, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a per curiam opinion vacating the judgment of the Massachusetts court and remanding the case. Citing its 2008 precedent District of Columbia v. Heller, and its 2010 precedent McDonald v. Chicago, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Massachusetts court’s decision as contradictory of Supreme Court precedent. Justice Alito filed a concurring opinion, in which Justice Thomas joined.
To discuss the case, we have Nelson Lund, who is University Professor at George Mason University School of Law.
In a per curiam opinion issued on March 21, 2016, the Supreme Court vacated and remanded a decision by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upholding a state law prohibiting the possession of stun guns, finding that the decision was inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago. Justices Alito and Thomas issued a concurring opinion which would have gone further in finding the Massachusetts statute unconstitutional. Our expert discussed the case and its implications for the Court’s Second Amendment jurisprudence going forward.