Constitutional Clichés: Does Trite Make Right?

Las Vegas Lawyers Chapter
Start : Friday, March 14, 2008 11:45 AM
End : Friday, March 14, 2008 01:30 PM

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Featured Speakers:
Randy E. Barnett



  • Professor Randy Barnett, Georgetown University Law Center

Randy Barnett is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at Georgetown University Law Center. He lectures internationally and appears frequently on radio and television programs such as the CBS Evening News, The News Hour (PBS), Talk of the Nation (NPR), and the Ricki Lake Show. Professor Barnett is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. He is the author of seven books and more than eighty articles.

Popular discourse on constitutional interpretation and judicial review tend to employ a series of catch phrases that have become constitutional clichés. Phrases such as "judicial activism," "judicial restraint," "strict construction," "not legislating from the bench," "Framers' intent," the "dead hand of the past," "stare decisis" and the "living Constitution" so dominate public commentary on the Constitution and the courts that quite often that is all one hears. Unfortunately, even law professors are not immune. There was a time when each of these catch phrases meant something and although each could mean something again, in current debates all have become trite and largely devoid of substance. In short, they have become clichés.

In this talk, Professor Barnett explains why these clichés should be abandoned even in casual conversation. Somewhat surprisingly, it turns out that several of them are connected by a common thread: the apparent desire by commentators to avoid substantive constitutional argument in favor of a process-based analysis that can be easily leveled in the absence of any expertise on the issues raised by a particular case. In other words, at least some of the appeal of these constitutional clichés is that they enable commentators to criticize the Court or particular decisions without actually having to know much about the Constitution itself.


Registration details:

**1 CLE Credit - 1 Ethics Credit APPLIED FOR**

Federalist Society Members: $45
Non-Federalist Society Members: $50
(Lunch included in price)

Federalist Society, Las Vegas, Nevada Chapter
c/o Kolesar & Leatham, Chtd.
3320 W. Sahara Ave., Ste. 380
Las Vegas, NV 89102
Matthew Saltzman, Esq., Chapter President

RSVP to: Lynn Warren, 702-889-7770 ON OR BEFORE MARCH 5, 2008